Quentin Paquette
and Caroline A. Evey

Caroline A. Evey
Inspiration piece

By Quentin Paquette

I’d gotten up and headed out just like I do every work day.  Which is to say that’s what time it was, and that I’d made coffee to take with me, and shaved, and got my work clothes on. But what it does not account for was that I’d also picked up an extra pad and pen, along with the book I‘d been reading, and tossed them into my messenger bag as I went out.  I didn’t walk the usual direct way to the bus stop either, I turned and took the way that goes by the park.  After all, it was a pleasant enough morning, and I could use a walk, and there was no reason to get in early like I usually do.  In fact there’s hardly ever a reason for me to get there that early other than everyone else has gotten used to my opening the doors and getting everything’s springs wound up for the day.

So, yeah, I went the way by the park.  And then, at the gate, I went in rather than by.  I’m still pretty sure I still expected to just wander through for a bit.  The morning was cool.  Autumn is starting to move in.  A hint of fog hovered over the dewy grass and swirled over the edges of the paths and around the corners of the markers.  The morning sun was still hazy and indirect.  My walking slowed, and I felt a heaviness come over me, an inertia.  When I got to the where this crypt stands, I found it would work perfectly if I sat here on the end, put my coffee down on the upper edge, and leaned on my elbow right here to read my book.

I’ve been reading this book on the bus, in fits in starts.  Wrestling with it more like.  The ideas are very dense, there have been weeks on the bus where I read the same three or four pages, arriving at my stop unable to reconstruct what my vision had passed over.  Here I’m finally finding the clarity to read page after page of this book without having to repeatedly go back to pick up the trail of the ideas again.  But still, after a hundred pages or so there’s too much to think about to move on without reflecting.  I pick my head up to change my perspective from focusing on the words to letting the vista come in without seeking out any particular detail.  Making sure I take a moment to really be here.

Scary almost how a whole morning can pass by like that without hardly noticing.  Going to work is no longer a realistic option.  We’re at a stage in the project where I’ve got my part of it just about done and most of what I’m doing is responding to the ways my colleagues have of leaving their part of the work undone.  In my negative moments I wonder if it’s not just inattention, but calculated, their knowing that I won’t leave it undone.  I won’t be missed if I’m not there today, but it would be a minor scene to show up late, especially since I don’t really have an explanation for why.

I finish the cold remnants of my coffee, realizing I’m going to be spending the day here.  I need to get a few provisions.  I leave my bag and book here and step out of the park to check around.  I come back with another cup of coffee, a pack of cigarettes, and two oranges, and lean up against the tree to light up.  Kind of an extravagance to buy a whole pack only to smoke two, but that’s what I’m going to hold myself to: one now and one later this afternoon to keep from wanting to nap.  I never was a real smoker, and now I smoke maybe 5 times a year, and today is going to be one.

The fog is gone, and the low angle of the sun brings the markers and crypts into greater resolution.  So many of them.  I know from somewhere that there are thousands of graves here, marked and unmarked, and none less than a century old.  It’s the bricks that draw my attention more than anything else.  Something so human about them, deliberate and crafted.  The rows are not perfect, and neither are the edges, the colors are not uniform, the sizes varied.  But someone took those pieces and put these together, one by one.  The thought of the effort brings a response from my hands, and for a few moments I feel the weight of a brick in my hand, the roughness of the surface, the coolness of it.  As my eyes run over the crypts, my arms feel the rhythm of scoop-spread-place-tap-cut, over and over, an uncountable number of times.

Leaning hard against the tree, I exhale and listen, listen to the underground.  Listening for what I can’t quite say.  Any thing of all the things these people had learned or heard or read or felt or saw.  Or dreamt.  What happened to all that?  Is any of it still here?  Will I be able to hear it if I’m quiet enough?  Or maybe it’s not being more quiet that’s needed, but being quiet in the right way.  Maybe today.


One Comment

  1. Posted September 24, 2012 at 6:09 pm | #

    A beautiful story from a beautiful image…if I had read this without seeing the photo, I honestly think this is exactly how I would imagine the place! I love this.