They were obviously headstones of graves, though the graves themselves no longer existed as either mounds or depressions; the years had leveled all. Scattered here and there, more massive blocks showed where some pompous or ambitious monument had once flung its feeble defiance at oblivion.
Souls are punished when they have gone forth from the body, some wandering among us, some going to hot or cold places of the earth, some harassed by spirits. Under all circumstances they suffer with the irrational part of their nature, with which they also sinned. For its sake there subsists that shadowy body which is seen about graves, especially the graves of evil livers.
The powerful have received their share of the world's attention even when their power has been shown as sheer evil. The victim's remain the faceless masses. Numbers. Mass graves. These monsters have fertilized our century with the mass graves of their victims and it is time that the powerless had names and faces -- and voices.
There's a graveyard in northern France where all the dead boys from D-Day are buried. The white crosses reach from one horizon to the other. I remember looking it over and thinking it was a forest of graves. But the rows were like this, dizzying, diagonal, perfectly straight, so after all it wasn't a forest but an orchard of graves. Nothing to do with nature, unless you count human nature.
A sematary, " I say. "A what?" Viola says, looking round at all the square stones marking out their graves. Must be a hundred, maybe two, in orderly rows and well-kept grass. Settler life is hard and it's short and lotsa New World people have lost the battle. "It's a place for burying dead folk, " I say. Her eyes widen. "A place for doing what?" "Don't people die in space?" I ask. "Yeah, " she says. "But we burn them. We don't put them in holes." She crosses her arms around herself, mouth and forehead frowning, peering around at the graves. "How can this be sanitary?
Minds me of a story they tell about Willy Feeley when he was a young fella. Willy was bashful, awful bashful. Well, one day he takes a heifer over to Graves' bull. Ever'body was out but Elsie Graves, and Elsie wasn't bashful at all. Willy, he stood there turnin' red an' he couldn't even talk. Elsie says, 'I know what you come for; the bull's out in back a the barn.' Well, they took the heifer out there an' Willy an' Elsie sat on the fence to watch. Purty soon Willy got feelin' purty fly. Elsie looks over an' says, like she don't know, 'What's a matter, Willy?' Willy's so randy, he can't hardly set still. 'By God, ' he says, 'by God, I wisht I was a-doin' that!' Elsie says, 'Why not, WIlly? It's your heifer.