Sunday, November 8, 2015

Books of the Dead

A week ago was the Feast of All Saints.  I created a photo essay for my theology blog that works as poetry too (I think), and I've posted it below.  It's not as fully realized a poem, in terms of the words, as my poem "Book of the Dead," which you can read here.  One of the short stories that I like best from my past few years of writing short stories also has the same name, and now I've created a photo essay/poem.

At Mepkin Abbey, every November, the monks put out the Book of the Dead, and visitors can leave the names of their dead.  I found it much more moving than I thought it would be to write the names on the page and to think of that book being preserved at the monastery.  I tend to believe in monasteries as protectors and preservers of culture, regardless of what comes at them, and so inscribing the names felt important.  I took a picture of the page, which you'll see below, with the names of my mother-in-law and grandparents.  I can just barely make them out at the bottom right of the photo of the page.

Here's the photo essay:

Books of the Dead

We write their names in the books we keep.

We carve their names on marble, which might last longer.

We trust the monks to keep the Book of the Dead, to remember our loved ones each November.

We keep their ashes close.

We light candles to beat back the darkness.

We scatter rose petals, both because we know the futility of our efforts

and because we commit to beauty.

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