There Must Be Some Kind of Way Out of Here – Gila, NM

by Mark Hahn


Booze, cigarettes and angels — what we cling to in this world to give us hope and help us know that we are alive. We put these things on our children and then on our dead while attempting to ignore our own mortality. We try bridging our memories with reality by using token objects of existence that we can touch and feel.

This cemetery near Gila New Mexico is as alive with love, remembrance and sorrow as the surrounding landscape is bleak and barren. Across the road is an uncontrolled landing strip for small planes. You can take off and fly away over the grave stones. You can fly to wherever you want. You can fly away from your own death and leave your dead memories behind — in a dream.

When I visit my dad’s grave next week, I don’t intend to bring anything with me. I’ll probably put my hand on his headstone and remember. The only thing I’ll be leaving are the tears that fall from my eyes onto the soil above his bones.

He’s buried in cemetery somewhere in Detroit in the middle of a neighborhood that is now almost completely abandoned. The houses around the cemetery are either empty, burned or have been bulldozed off the face of the earth. It is perhaps the perfect landscape to remember how alone I felt when he died. Really, I was just a kid.

My relatives flew into town and buried him here. Then they flew away. His cemetery is one of loneliest places on earth. I don’t make it a habit of visiting and I’ve never brought flowers. Germans don’t leave booze. I guess we’re expected to hold in our sadness until it rips us apart.

I wish I had a single prop two-seater aircraft to climb into and fly away in, but I don’t. I’m stuck here on the ground. Some things will always hurt.