Parting From LM Columns Editor, Alissa McElreath’s blog, World Of One Thousand Different Things
There’s a beautiful, old cemetery I pass every day on my way in and out of work. It’s sprawling, and green, and dotted with the mottled gray and, now and again, sharp white, of the tombstones and graveside monuments. It has that hunched-over beautiful, sad, and eerie quality older cemeteries have–none of that sterile quality of the newer modern and always well-tended ones. Tucked under a drooping bush by the end of the fence closest to the road is a stone angel. You can only see her when you hit a certain curve in the road, and only then for a few seconds. She peeks out from under the branches, hands folded delicately, head bowed towards the dead before her.
This morning I looked for the angel, as I always do, then my car whizzed past, on and up towards the entrance to school. To my right suddenly, directly across the street from the cemetery and the angel and past a corner where prostitutes and drug dealers hang out as early as 5:00 p.m. on a weekday, I passed a large, leafy tree. In the fork of its lowest two, thick branches sat a woman. The image would have been picturesque: a young woman in a floral skirt, barefoot, wild curly hair blowing in the chilly morning air. It could have been picturesque, only it wasn’t. Her face turned to me as I passed by–a face much older than her years, and her eyes were vacant and drugged. Her hair was wild because it was unwashed and uncombed, her feet bare because she didn’t have any shoes, her skirt torn, her ankles tattoed with scabs.
I wondered if she knew about that angel across from her; the one separated by a chain link face, the one with her back turned, hands folded, praying for the dead.