Autumn’s not bad at the start. It’s still warm during the day. The trees are still lush. Sometimes I’ll catch the sound of a cicada that just won’t give up yet. Go cicada! Keep dreaming!
It’s only the slant of the sun that gives the season away. I see you autumn! You don’t fool me with your 75 degree days!
Since I haven’t fully started my new writing project and find myself at loose ends (plus the fact that because the temps are all up and down and in between, most libraries haven’t stopped with the crazy a/c yet), I went to my favorite local cemetary. I’ve walked there before but I’m trying to heal my feet and legs which I destroyed by accident at the beach this summer. So I drove and sat under a tree.
The sky’s a really beautiful blue these days and the clouds are all wispy as if the fog I drove through this morning just pulled up stakes and floated up so as not to bother anyone. Sky fog. It makes me almost not miss summer. Almost.
I walked around a bit, first in the white cemetary (where I picked up a random silk flower that had blown off an arrangement) and then in the black one. They are owned by different churches and divided by a chain link fence. Which I suppose is fitting for Virginia and perhaps it’s no longer a race thing but just a property delineation.
I’m sure if I asked that’s what I’d be told.
My favorite headstone is Missouri Jackson’s. She was somebody’s mammy once upon a time.
And clearly, because this fact is prominent on the stone (there’s no ‘beloved mother’ or ‘beloved wife’ moentioned), she may not have had any blood relatives left when she died. There’s no birth date either. Did no one know how old she was? Or know when she was born? Even a guess? Perhaps she didn’t know. Perhaps no one told her. Perhaps her parents were slaves and could neither read nor write. Or, perhaps she’d known but hadn’t bothered to tell any of the people who witnessed her death, who buried her and loved her enough to have the headstone made. Maybe she was old as dirt and nobody thought it mattered. Or, maybe there’s a Bible somewhere with her name written in it. Or maybe it was lost in a fire. Had she married? Had children? Had she had life that had more good than bad in it? Dying when she did, it’s really hard to say. Perhaps she’d always been free but relegated to jobs suitable for a black woman of her time.
Each headstone is a story but Missouri’s the one I want to know.