It was a quiet still morning in the old cemetery of Terlingua,TX near Big Bend National Park. These are mostly older graves, souls taken after a hard scrabble life in the quicksilver mines. The cemetery is still active with ceremony of recent date. I certainly felt not alone, but it was good feelings of love, hard work, men , women and children that had lived, worked, celebrated, loved and died.
What at first seems neglected and eroded is actually made new with recent visits. Most everybody has a small shrine: candles, flowers, rosaries, mementoes , and small treasures from a recent visit. Gone, but not forgotten.
One that fell into my heart was a shrine consisting of three freshly painted pieces of local flagstone. Two of the rocks had been vaguely shaped by nature into heart shapes. All three stones were painted with words in flourescent paint. Color that you knew the desert would take long before the feeling in these words. “Ellis: brother, son, loved one, Friend, Beauty Love & Strength 11-11-11”
Along with the rocks were a dime & one penny, symbols of a date most of us thought momentous. Weddings and births were planned, the six number ones were fun to write. I don’t think anyone looked forward to a death. I thought of all the tears that had fallen on this ground and felt I had invaded a sacred place. I shouldered my camera left a prayer with the rocks and went to have some coffee.
Wordsworth expressed it much better:
Intimations of Immortality
What though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now forever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind. William Wordsworth