Those who have ambled down Hemlock Street or its neighboring avenues have witnessed a tranquil drove of secret forces working under cloak, though their eyes only saw somnolent neighborhoods shying behind oaks and willows… and dwarf mansions built on old world money, venerable in the morning mist that has ne’er parted in years. In accompanying evenings are where thoughts clouded by sleep dangle between summer and fall; mere haloes above the heads of those who rarely venture outside of their homes, even to visit their ancestors who rest in the cemetery on the opposite curb. The blade of modernism has failed to hack far into the mesh of creeper vines and English ivy, for hints of Irish mystique and Victorian charisma seem to have imported into this secluded American settlement with ease.
Tiny, fidgeting birds accent the mailbox shrubbery and brick-bordered gardens, their enchanted tittering so regretfully unheard through drowsy windows sealed and shuttered. Basket-weave rocking chairs and antique swings stagnate on the porches of flaking paint and tattered screens, hiding behind yards dominated by ancestral oak trees. One yard, though drenched in shade, flames with the pigments of a saucer magnolia in full offering; plump albino blooms half-blushing with a rosaceous tint ignited by the soil’s royal nourishment. The blur of a hummingbird in plumage of multi-faceted green samples the floral chalices of nectar, too quick to be pinned by eyes slowed from a suburban evening spell. Even a trellis alive with dew-salted roses cannot wake the spectator beyond a certain degree, for the scheme of vivid flowers against pale siding and jaded wood sustains a certain chromatic balance.
Lions of stone frame the half-pried gates to the Hemlock Street Cemetery, silent sentinels each raising a paw in their frozen state of ferocity. Intruders be those who’re instilled with living breath; those still carrying the pulsating heart that denies them accordance with the necrotic elite. The lots within are citied with rows of lichen-freckled tombstones, some of them applaudingly grandiose and some of them barely rising to level with the others. The curious find mossy steps beckoning to terraces of fog and willow tears… and dampened angel statues half-dipped in subtle moss tint, their melodramatic forms either caressing granite crosses or perched atop headstones in guardian pose. Under drooping tufts of peat moss sleep concrete plateaus littered with disheveled petals… the crimson contrast of scattered berries clouds the lettering on an ashy epitaph embe dded in the earth.
What crouches over dark waters but a rickety bridge that protests to the weight of drifting automobiles; unbelonging vessels that carry both the mournful and the naïve to either destinations of grievance or apexes of photographic opportunity. The reflections of dense, overhanging branches ooze through the shining, streamlined bodies and speckle the ebony windows too dark to reveal the gazers within. A break in the trees beckons to a lonely hill crowned with a Civil War mausoleum; in its shadow a tiny American flag juts out of the knoll, limping in the absence of wind, and cannonball accents frame the five-step staircase that lifts up to meet the terrace.
Soon the onset of autumn expands familiar earth-tones into multiple shades of subtle variation; thousands of hues huddled within the same motif, seducing the eye with subdued yet plentiful detail. It is a smooth transition into an even sleepier era, when the mundane hardly-a-song of the crows echoes across damp, jaded fields and the rivets of woodpecker craft ricochet lonesomely through the halls of forest. Soon the cold rains will sweep the horizon and come to replenish the mist of bush-laden streets, tapping loose those residual leaves and moistening the soil of graves with a fusion fit to feed the earthen gods who demand the flow of seasons.