We walk down the road which leads to the yard where the dead lie. Or where they have long since been left to rot, and have done so. We walk on the path, far from the graves. We keep a grave face on. We don’t want to mess with ghosts. We don’t want them to know that we live; they might not like that. They might try to end our lives. They might try to stop our breaths, our brain, or our heart. They might smash me on the ground, or let a car run me down.
So we creep by. Soft steps and no smiles. The graves are gray. They might be warm, for the sun is out, we can see it, and have seen it all day. There are no clouds out. We won’t touch the graves, we won’t think too much on their warmth or how they might feel. (They might be cold, who knows?)
The dead here can tell that we fear them. They can tell that when they talk, we hear them. They can tell that we know that they are dead, but that this is where the dead live; at night they live here. It is day, though, and as we walk through the yard, we just hear their soft talk. They talk in their sleep. And they hear us go by and they wake up a bit, I think, but not all the way. They stir.
I know there are dead who don’t live in this place. Who don’t live in a place like this at all. I know there are dead who burn up when they die. And there are dead who are cut up, whose small parts are left to the world and the birds. And there are dead who are lost when they die. The dead who live here are most like the ones who still live, most like us. They are in the ground, but not in the dirt. Each one is in a box; each stays in a box. There are old stones here, with words which have worn off since they were put there. Those stones don’t mark much now. They mark a place where one of the dead used to be. But each new dead has a new box. Each box is made well with the best parts: a hard top, hard sides. The parts on which the new dead lie are hard too. A new box stays a while. It stays a long time. In the box, the dead stay a long time. This is how I know that they can hear us. And this is how I know that we can hear them.
I’d like to stay here, but not die. I’d like to live in a place like this. I’d like to hear the sounds that the dead make, and not talk to them, not let them know that we live with them. We might stay here, we might not leave. We might sit down on the ground and stay near the graves. The graves would keep us cool or warm, keep the wind from our skin. The dead would talk to us, or if we did not talk at all, we could hear what the dead might say if we were not here.
But I know this is how the dead start out. They live at first. Then, at the end of their lives, they get close to death. Some start to die when they see how close they are to death. Some don’t see, and just die. They don’t know they are on the brink of death, and when they get close to it, they just fall in.