Posts Tagged ‘death’

bury me here


Day of the Dead, Codogno, Italy © Jim Korpi

A king of one of the last monarchies died last week. The unmarked grave was a simple pile of stones. No name for a dead king, no tomb.
A few years back I searched a small fishing village in Maine for the grave of a painter I admire. It was supposed to be in a field near the home of a family he had painted often. I arrived at the house just before sunrise. The old wooden siding of the house was peeling and most likely still is. Through the age-distorted glass of the house I could see the simple museum dedicated to the family who were subjects in well known water colors.
For over an hour I searched through the over-grown fields around the house for signs of a grave site. I wanted to see where a man like this would want to lie indefinitely. The subjects he painted in this house he had grown close to. You could see this in the work. But to ask to be buried near a subject said something deeper about the artist.
The sun came up and I was about to give up. Fisherman were driving past on the way to the docks and sending the looks only strangers send other strangers. I crossed the road from the house and saw another five acre field open from the trees lining the road. At the far end of the field I could see what looked like a small country cemetery.
Walking through the field toward the dozen subtle stones poking from the ground, one stone stood slightly higher and darker. On the grave was simply Andrew Wyeth 1917-2009.

stranger danger


Town & Country Series, Athens, Ohio © Jim Korpi

Jackson lies on the warm summer grass under a thin ornamental tree with his face covered by a baseball cap. The hope was to lapse into a 10 minute nap during lunch break. For the past four hours we hauled 50-pound packs of asphalt shingles up a 30-foot ladder.
“People in the city are afraid of people in the country,” Jackson states through the cotton of his hat. “People in the country are afraid of people in the city.”
Annah and I moved to an old farm house in the country from an apartment in town. In the night’s breeze limbs of an old sugar maple rub against the wood siding. This sound is someone trying to break in, steal all our belongings, and then tie us up and shoot us. This is the scenario going through my head at 3 am during a strong wind. I saw a movie once, heard a news report, or maybe it was something that happened to a friend of a friend when they were younger.
In 2010 there were 569 homicides in the state of Ohio. The FBI says 79% of all these murders are committed by friends, family, or acquaintances.
In the same year, in the state of Ohio, 26,164 people died of heart disease, 25,083 of cancer, 6,717 from Chronic lower respiratory diseases, 5,124 from “accidents,” 3,470 of diabetes, 1,975 from influenza, 1,911 from drug-induced causes, 1,439 from suicide, 1,252 from motor vehicle accidents, 1,244 from chronic liver disease, and 1,220 from hypertension.

expectations on man

Movement of Grass, Eastern Shores, Virginia © Jim Korpi

If I were a carpenter,
With calloused hands
And all to be expected of a man,
Would you still love me?

My grave and allotted soil
Will know only what I provide.
It asks not what I was, or what I am
But only for me to stay.

Am I not like the tree?
Whose limbs lose the burden
Of yesterday’s season, rest,
And birth new form.

The me who has been
Will no longer be.
Freed from the worldly,
I return. Reborn.
Naked, I hold no instruments
Of art nor the tyranny of trade.

I ask only for the breast
To feed me
And the warm comforting calm.

At Rest

Annie Eliza Bower & Cedar, Snow Hill © Jim Korpi

Life, a friend tells me, renews itself over and over again. An aspect of our being seems to die, and we grasp for its memory as it falls.
Sorrow hides growth.

pine box below

Cemetery, New Orleans © Jim Korpi

I hope to die during Autumn.
I want fallen leaves to surround me.

The wind blows steady then
with promise of a calm.
The silence of winter
lies a blanket of rest
over earth and the pine box below.

The pine should be unfinished,
filled with knots, imperfections.

Temperate soil,
free from frost,
cluttered with granite,
return me to the land.

more cemetery photographs