If I Had a Cemetery by Jory Post
I’d carve totem poles in place of headstones. They’d tell whole stories, better than inscriptions. They’d be the right height: five to six feet for men and women, twenty-one inches for babies. I’d hand-paint them. Crushed strawberries for red. Melted chocolate truffles for brown. The skin of eggplants for purple. I’d cluster poets together on the knoll behind the barn. Give them a view of the canyon, a slight peek of the bay, just enough to prompt them. The artists would inhabit the garden, make salads, paint still lives. Musicians would be scattered among the trees, cellos with birch, violins with weeping willows, brass screaming at eucalyptus to go home. If I had a cemetery I’d be selective. Use three questions: Did you dance? Did you have fun? Were you surprised? I’d have a lawn, a fountain, a cupola. But no parking lot. No visitors allowed. The dead deserve a peaceful entrance. I’m working on my pole now. Crushed dandelion flowers for my yellowing teeth. A scoop of clouds for the returning grey of my beard. I’ll fit right in.
Jory Post is a writer, educator, billiards player, who is inspired by Joseph Cornell to make shadow boxes and assemblage. His work has been published in The Sun, Chicago Quarterly Review, Red Wheelbarrow, and more.
Photo by Karsten Madsen