Saturday, July 2, 2011

Place of the Dead

Where is the Place of the Dead?
We seem to have trouble keeping them buried.

During the Great Flood of ‘93 there was a kind of miracle in a Missouri cemetary. The flood opened some graves and some of the corpses ESCAPED. And when the dead rose the living were scandalized and labored to fish the corpses out of the wild river, but many of the Dead were quicker than the Quick and never could be found. They were the lucky ones, the ones I envy. They rode the river to the sea, while the others got stuck in metal boxes and placed in a neat row in a pit that was filled with dirt by a bulldozer. A return to the primal sea at least makes a poetic sort of sense, and that might be the most you can ask for.
Does a person “need” to be remembered after death? After I die I no longer need to be remembered, but maybe the living need to remember. They also need to forget. Put the dead in their place. The Place of the Dead.

Washington Square Park: Nearly 2 weeks after being nearly obliterated during the vaporization of the Twin Towers, I relax on a bench in a park where long ago men were executed by hanging.
Walk to the Village.
Despite the Death Smog that covers the city, happy people sit at sidewalk tables, drinking, eating, laughing, talking on cell phones. The smog smells like a burnt electrical cord combined with something you don’t want to think about.
Walk below Canal Street:
join the carnival crowd of picture takers, rollerbladers, baby stroller pushers, souvenir T-shirt buyers and sellers, cell phone chatters - an ugly mass of people with no sense of the sacred, except for the odd mourner here and there, the odd pilgrim.
And what are you doing here? What did you come to see?
I wanted to go back to the center of the world
where I used to sit on a bench and drink coffee
and watch the human race pass by.
Every day the city wakes up to the anguish,
to the fact that something very big is missing.
the entire city wakes up like an amputee haunted
by phantom limbs.

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