"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

When Iris bloom in the dooryard

One of the iris from my Dad’s grave popped into full bloom in our doorway this morning, a beautiful purple blue.
I dug a few roots up several years ago in Fairlawn Cemetery at Comanche, Oklahoma, one early spring.
Every year they come up, around the blackened, jagged remains of an old oak tree stump.
When Dad was buried there, almost 40 years ago, the tree was alive. It
twisted upward in a half spiral, its weathered bark curving over his grave.
Dad would have loved the tree. The artist would have taken his pencils and sketched it on one of his pads. Like him, the tree had character.
The irises were there then, although I didn't notice them much because of the freshness of the grave, and the shape of the tree.
Several years ago though, the tree died, and rotted. I'm not sure when it
came down, but I suspect one of those southern Oklahoma windstorms snapped it off at the base.
I go back to the cemetery at the north edge of the poor little red dirt
Oklahoma town a couple of times a year, driving up the gravel, listening to
it crunch under my tires, and get out and walk toward the grave.
I used to be able to find the grave because of the tree, and now I look for
the stump and irises.
Four graves in a row, north to south.
Dad's grave, looking north. It's wet because I planted flowers and cleaned the stone.
The northernmost, a four-foot white marble pillar, tilting a little, was my
great-grandfather--Batte Peterson Clark:.
B.P. Clark
April 11, 1855
July 26, 1916
Next is a flat stone, my great grandmother:
Mary U. Watts Clark
1848-1923
Then there's granddad's flat stone:
Erle T. Clark
Jan. 14, 1890
Dec. 4, 1963
Then, Dad's gravestone, only about two to three miles north of where he was born:
Terrence M. Clark
Jan. 21, 1914
Dec. 14, 1973
"His Spirit Lives In His Paintings"
There is a space, room for one more grave.
Then there is the stump and the irises. Some of which now burst into bloom every year in our dooryard.
I can stand there, and walk between the graves and stump, and talk, and memories bloom again.
Just like the irises every spring,

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