La Toussaint. Avignon, France. 2001

France-they came

La Toussaint, November 1, 2001. Cimetière Saint Véran.

I was in a somber mood, with 9/11 looming large in my rear-view mirror, and since I find solace in ritual I went along with neighbors to the big cemetery on the northeast side of Avignon. The French, of course they take a picnic to the cemetery and make a day of it, and the babble of “pas normal” and “je pense” and “je trouve” bubbles between the headstones, for everyone is always having opinions, and the graveyard really prompts them. But see? Les Français had distracted me from my own nation’s catastrophe.

And as I left, I passed these two elderly ladies, who had come to look for a distant relative. There was a registration table. If they signed in, the aggravated official would look up their kin or the plot number. But they weren’t sure they wanted to give up that information – maybe le fisc would show up and want to increase the taxes.

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