This rant first appeared in the regular series, “Denim Spirit,” of The Finger Lakes Times (NY):
It is early morning dark.
A star or two smile through the light pollution of white street lamps, the domed blaze of home security floods, and even the lunar sliver of light curled above. Dog and me crunch brown, red, and yellow leaves, some the size of a catcher’s mitt, in the historic cemetery where no one has been buried for a hundred years. Old, pale gravestones the color of the moon, are tongues rising up from the lumpy ground that wag left and right, forward and back and talk in whispers.
Even this early there is enough noise to wake the dead.
A garbage truck ramps its gears from one to three, a school bus lets loose the yellow blimp’s distinctive flatulence, the car with the bad muffler that heads to work the same time each day, and that dog with an emphysema bark that yaps at us from the other side of the street. But we disappear into the cemetery and pull an invisible curtain of quiet behind us.
I wish people could visit one another’s thoughts. Just fly in for a small look, then zoom out again. If only we could do it, leave no footprint or debris behind, but peek in on a few special people to determine whether or not we are crazy. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel the need for verification.
It is the angels that raise this question.
It is those angels of my better nature as much, if not more, than the darker ones that concern me. They whisper loudly in the echo chamber and lithely dance the tango on the tiniest of nerves. Most of the time I do not know which to believe, or even if any of them are trustworthy. I know for a fact that memories have been switched before, changed to conceal the guilty and sometimes to indict the innocent. They also lay blame-traps for other people to step in, and hold elections about things for which they don’t even have a vote. That rowdy crowd of voices would just as soon be in charge instead of me, and doggone if I do not always know which of us is.
But the cemetery is quiet. Only the ghosts of other people, and long ago ones at that.
Dog wants to get off leash and run crazy eights or chase the posse of bold squirrels that sashay around the cemetery making noise in the leaves, knowing she could never catch them. Her unadulterated joy of smelling everything sweet or nasty, and sheer delight in whatever moment she is in, causes me to suspect there are not angels lurking in her mind. Just whatever is there within the reach of her senses, and that appears to be enough for happiness.
Oh, to be a dog some days, with a nose that works, and soft, floppy ears that hear everything, but instinctively know what to pay attention to and what is mere distraction.