Flinging Superstitions

By Lana Spendl

          This piece first appeared in Gargoyle (Issue 65)

I’m walking through an Indiana cemetery and I remember a friend of a friend in New York City chiding me because of my tendency to walk through cemeteries. “You need to let the dead rest,” she said. “I’m not digging up their bodies,” I answered. How defensive I got. How irritated. Because she spoke with an authority too old for her age. As if her words were the words of her father or grandmother or a whole slew of elders who had been cooking up their judgments since the beginning of time. And if there had been a cemetery near the café where we sat, I would have given her the finger and powerwalked through it right before her eyes. But now in my walk I come upon a man’s picture on a gravestone. He is young and wears a suit and he looks like a scared boy who’s been dressed in the clothes of a man. My irritation crumples under his uncertain gaze. He is honest. I am not. I am the same as my friend’s friend. I fling around the superstitions of others as if they were my own and I raise my chin up in the air like a pissed off runway model. I grasp at empty judgments with my hands and mold them into verdicts and decrees, and all the while, underneath it all, flows a terrifying river of darkness and gold. I see glimpses of it sometimes and quickly turn away.