I modelled this piece of writing on Darkness and Light in Kathleen Jamie’s Findings.
“Silence. Silence is what we dread. We listen to music on the underground while the train engines shriek in our ears. We turn our TVs on when we are at home alone to avoid hearing the silence. We live surrounded in noises, music and words. We fear silence because it signifies loneliness, but mostly because it reminds us of the stillness of death.
I, on the contrary, enjoy the silence and today I am longing for it. I need quiet to immerge myself in the sensations and the gothic atmosphere of the cemetery. And I need silence to let the wave of emotions rise and to get in touch with them, and then transfer them on paper. The concept of emotions recollected in tranquillity was well explained by William Wordsworth and watching the yellow heaps of daffodils I can’t help thinking about him.
Alas, today I cannot have quiet, a friend asked to join me in the visit to the cemetery, and being a sunny Sunday I know that my desire for silence is destined to be frustrated. As we walk through the deteriorating headstones I feel quite annoyed by the joyful sounds of baby playing in the park and people running. A cemetery, a place of grief and even if nobody has been interred here for fifty years I still feel its sacred quality and perceive this noises as disrespectful to the memory of the people buried here. More correctly I feel they are unfair towards the people that still come here to mourn their loved ones, as you can see from the unexpected bunches of flowers carefully placed on the graves.
I keep advancing forward looking at the carvings on the slated headstones and reading the inscriptions. I keep track of names, ages and dates of burial, imagining the face behind the headstone. These monuments often tell the story of life that didn’t have the chance to begin before being ended. As I observe the ages of the people buried there me and my fried become quieter. We suddenly regain awareness of how life is fragile and we keep strolling in silence, feeling both overwhelmed by the unfathomable mystery of death and guilty for not appreciating enough the long lifespan that was granted to us.
Our sombre mood is interrupted by the shriek of a parakeet. It’s fighting with a magpie over the control of a branch. An unusual sight in London. The cobalt blue and green of their feathers brings me a lighter state of mind. The chirping of birds, the noise of a small branch cracked by the paws of a squirrel are the only exceptions I admit to the quiet of the site. They are the sounds of nature rebirthing, of life finding its way back from death.”