Graveyard Way


Nothing to see here. Move along.

Nothing to see here. Move along.

I was sitting at a traffic light.

It was a Friday evening and I was trying a new route home in an effort to trim the Friday evening commute down to under two hours so I’d taken a new route on roads I’d never traveled before. The route was working out nicely: traffic seemed manageable and it seemed like I might actually make it home in a reasonable amount of time. At least, that is, a reasonable amount of time for a Friday in Los Angeles.

But for the moment I was stopped at a traffic light.

Glancing to my left I noticed a graveyard. This was at least the third graveyard that I had encountered along this route (I would pass five in total by the time I made it home). Urban graveyards are strange open places. They give the impression of being park-like with neatly trimmed grass and tastefully maintained trees but they are parks where few people visit and no one wants to stay. In the urban fields of the dead, gravestones sprout from the earth in tidy, agricultural rows marking the planting of generations of beloved deceased.

In the garden of this particular graveyard the stones grew in the shape of crosses. The crosses had three transoms- one of which was slanted slightly making me think that they marked the place of individuals who might’ve come from eastern Europe somewhere.

But it wasn’t the crosses that caught my eye.

No. It was the chickens. Seven of them. Glossy and black.

Chickens in a graveyard? In the middle of Los Angeles? Surely not. Surely they were just crows- big fat crows: there are plenty of crows in Los Angeles. Right?

No. They were chickens. Seven fat, black hens and a rooster so classic that he could’ve stepped off the page of a children’s book. The traffic light stayed red so I had plenty of time to observe them pecking happily at the lush green lawn in the corner of the graveyard nearest to the intersection. They seemed to be well cared for, but it was not apparent by whom. There didn’t seem to be a coop anywhere nearby. There didn’t seem to be any reason for them to be there at all.

It is moments like these that I sometimes wonder how much of life slips past me unobserved simply because I don’t turn my head to see it.

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~ by Gwydhar Gebien on April 10, 2015.

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