every year, i visit the cemetery at least twice. i see the same people there. the gravedigger and the groundskeeper. every year the grass grows the same length. the same spotted dog runs between the trees. the birds sing the same solemn song.
this is where i learnt poetry. when my siblings and i stopped playing our games of jumping from one stone to another because the grass is on fire. when we stopped looking for the the oldest dead person. when we stopped arguing whether the bat was a bird or the bird was a bat. when i stopped being scared of Lucia who died as a nine-year-old girl like me because i turned ten the next year, i learnt poetry. because the grass is green and brown and never on fire. because there were bats and birds and they all screamed at us.
i learnt poetry with the way lampposts flickered twice at exactly six in the evening before they finally turned on. how the gravedigger wiped the sweat off his forehead with the back of his hand after shoveling eighteen spadefuls of dirt. with the way weeds clammed shut when you touched them. but mostly, i learnt poetry by reading from grey slabs of stone.
sometimes i have to scrape the candle wax off before i could read the writings. and i’d come home with dried blood underneath my nails. it takes a few hours before the throbbing would go away completely. when it does, i’d miss it. and i’d will it to come back. but it never does. that’s why i go back. i always do. and i always will.