The stones of the ruined church are warmed by the setting sun, giving it a temporary Hollywood glow despite its location in Galway, on a cold February day.
The gate squeaks as she walks in, camera in hand, eager to capture the picturesque as the sky prepares for its transition to night.
Despite living in the area for a long time she had not visited this church before, and now she realises there is a graveyard attached. She is fond of graveyards – they a familiar, comforting, presence. When she was a child she played in one close to her house. Sometimes she’d visit it at night, perch upon a headstone, and look up at the moon through the yew trees.
She never considered this blasphemous or inappropriate. The dead were underground, and none ever complained. She often read the faint names of the long-deceased and wondered about their lives. It was an old cemetery, no longer in current use. She pondered if any of their kin were still alive. Was she one of their only regular visitors?
It made her wonder what would happen when she died. Would anyone visit her resting place? How long would it take before her headstone was passed by? She determined then that she would not end up in one of these places. As much as she enjoyed visiting, she did not want to join the community of buried dead.
This graveyard has a mixture of old and new headstones, and invariably the cleaner, fresher ones seem wrong. She prefers the markers coated with lichens, and perhaps at a tilt.
She drifts towards the church. Only its walls remain.
All things pass, she whispers as her boots scuff pebbles in its roofless nave. She imagines the priests and congregations that gathered here over centuries who thought their mark upon the earth would be permanent.
The vault of heaven shines down upon her upturned face, and this shifting spectrum of light induces more reverence in her than any statue or icon.
Everything crumbles under the sky, she thinks.
The knowledge does not weigh her down.
She springs lightly between the modern headstones and the worn down nubs coated in moss and ivy.
The gate creaks, and she is gone.