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Don Hepler


     THE GRAVEYARD is overflowing with aloneness.

     Wind, sometimes gentle, sometimes not so gentle, stirs the branches of surrounding trees and falls onto the too fertile fields, fields that will produce nothing but an uneven crop of misaligned markers and tilted headstones.

     Rain happens now and then.  It drools over the stones, oozes across the chiseled scripts and slips to the ground, soaking the soil as if looking to nourish the stone's roots.

     Only there are no roots.

     Snow happens too, and that is the worst time of all.  The pristine white powder crowns on the stones and bitter winds blow unheard through the stone garden; a cold, alone place.  A taste of what awaits all flesh.

     It is a place of forever; a place where entire lives are explained in two or three terse lines of chiseled script; a place where stories are not told but left to the imagination.  Life itself, laid out in worn letters, edges blurred by the relentless passage of time; letters that feel cool and smooth to the touch.  Only they are never touched.



Beloved Mother




     Beloved Mother.


     Someone cared.  Someone cried and hurt and wanted.


     But no more.

     Now she is but a name on a stone, a name carved in once-sharp letters now eroded to softness; a name that will gradually wear away with the drift of time until it is gone completely.  And that will be the end of her.  Even now, the person who was Lavinia Eastlick is no longer a living memory.  The way she laughed, the way she cried, her smile; all gone now, never to be recalled with fondness.  Never to be recalled at all.

     There is no grave for her husband.  He is not here.  He is an unanswered question, a story to be guessed.  Did he remarry?  Does he lie with his second wife?  Or did he die in the wilderness of back then, his bones scattered or gnawed to nothing by animals.

     Slowly eroding stones, each a life lived, each a story; some good, some evil, some devastatingly bland.