July 19, 2012

A Tale from Poble Nou Cemetery

The afternoon sun beat down upon her head like dull, heavy fists, rendering her listless and clammy-skinned. She slunk into the shade and took a deep breath and a small sip of water. Her heart was thudding. She looked around her. On all sides, she was surrounded by tall chambers filled with the remains of the dead.
Most people were down at the beach but she had known upon waking that morning that she wanted to go somewhere different. She didn't want to go somewhere to forget the daily grind. She didn't want to forget life. She wanted to feel it. She wanted to look at it from a different angle and size it up. Where better than from the other side of things? She drew another deep breath that was the only audible sound in the cemetery apart from distant birdsong and she continued to wander the grounds slowly, deliberately. Why are cemeteries always so quiet? She thought. It is as if they are pockets of silence in the hectic ebb and flow of life. Even the air is different here. It moves carefully and quietly, as if it wants to disturb nothing.
She passed the chambers and came to a sweeping entrance that led into what can only be described as a sculptor's playground. It was as if she had reached the centre of the maze; the heart of the labyrinth.
Mouth agape, she stepped gingerly up a small staircase. To her right were large vaults. Each with their own story to tell. In the first she came to, there was a large Jesus upon a crucifix, looming over her with its great height and profound tragic air. She cocked her head slightly and looked up at him, smiling sadly. She hadn't had much time for Jesus since she was little. On Sundays, she would be sent to school and would read all those wonderful stories in the bible and was happy to make her own conclusions about them. However, as she grew, so did the pressure to choose one camp or the other. The believers or the non-believers. Either way, choosing one or the other always led to some kind of conflict or argument and she preferred to keep her thoughts and interpretations to herself. Religion had always been quite a personal thing and so she had buried the idea of Jesus in order to avoid the one thing she hated most: judgement. He was still there inside her. Just not in the shape or form you'd imagine. His story was there in her thoughts. He existed in the words of her mind.
 She continued forth and marvelled at the incredible detail that is so lacking in modern times. Newer cemetries are somewhat so much more simple. Beautiful in a different way, overgrown with lush green grass and shaded with tall trees but with none of the pure decadence of the past.

She descended the stairs into the courtyard that was brimming with more stone wonders, unsure of which way to turn in case she missed anything. She marked a winged angel as a point of location, so that she couldn't lose herself and would be sure to leave no sculpture or vault unseen.
And so she walked and walked. Trying her best to keep to the shadows. She could feel the blood in her cheeks.
Silence followed her as she moved between the statues. There wasn't another soul in sight. Even the sky was cloudless. She looked up at this lady and said, rather nervously, 'I'm sorry but I've forgotten all the Latin I studied at school. I can't quite understand what you are pointing at'. The woman said nothing and pointed all the same. Her expression fixed. 
 She peeked into chambers and vaults and found most of them unkempt and dilapidated. Some of the locks were broken and the doors were ajar.
A piercing stab of fear struck her heart. Who had opened these doors and why? Don't be silly, Sally. She told herself. You've been watching too many movies. Still, she started to move with a little extra caution. Ready to run if she needed to.
 Along her way she met with many curious characters. Two young love birds against the backdrop of the sky. A old man deep in thought and a young woman reading a book, her hand on her heart. She sat with the woman for a while and read her own book. She knew what it was like to also love a book completely but had trouble reading the words in the bright sunlight and was quickly on her way.

She came across a beautiful vault with beams pouring over the top and illuminating the broken glass panels and the dereliction that lay behind them. A wonderful contrast. Just then, something caught the corner of her eye. Something small and motionless but most certainly alive...
A cemetery cat!

To be continued....

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