Carl over at Stainless Steel Droppings has invited readers to post thoughts and images of cemeteries as part of The Graveyard Book readalong. For me, an assignment right up Mausoleum Alley. The following is inspired by the renowned Victorian landmark, Mountain View Cemetery , and I updated this piece with additional photos. Let us go then, you and I, when ghosts and ghouls patrol the sky…
Pause on the threshold of Mountain View Cemetery, but do not distract yourself with the broken threads of an abandoned spider web; you are at the gates.
Then stroll beyond inscripted Chinese calligraphy, carved Japanese crests, countless crosses: Celtic, Roman Catholic, Russian Orthodox. And there, a miniature mosque on a knoll surrounded by Civil War-style cannons.
Before circling the Jewish Home of Eternity studded with Stars of David and rose garlands, linger on a stone bench and observe water slip down rocks and a weeping willow trail leaves like tears into a dense green pool. From here, around a molded tree trunk (angle-cut for a life felled), rest cross-legged in front of a small tower and pluck up a blade of grass.
Squint, eyes half-closed facing the sun, and you can almost see them coming up the hill. Exquisite horses pulling narrow-track surreys, the canopy top fringe swaying to their hooves’ rhythm, before stopping in front of their future homes. A family alights, laden with picnic provisions and parasols (first spreading a quilt on their piece of hill, perhaps the World Without End block pattern in avocado green, bubble gum pink, and feed sack muslin) and small neatly bound volumes of poetry to absorb in the afternoon sun. The dead had merely departed, removing themselves to a fashionable new address, still available on short notice to share a family meal. Continue the climb from here, and you find yourself among pyramids, obelisks, temples, and tombs. At the top of the mountain, remove your hat, wipe away the sweat gathered beneath the band with an embossed linen handkerchief, and rest on the step of the Ghirardelli mausoleum, the white marble cold under your thighs.