Joshua Rex
The story told by the grave markers in Cleveland's Erie Street Cemetery is that of full circle reclamation. This process is inevitable, despite our attempts to mark our passings in the most stable and long-lasting natural element readily available to us: Stone. Human erasure, via wind and rain hammering at the lovingly chiseled epitaphs over generations until they have dissolved into illegible mumblings, tell the tale of the Earth’s dominion over humans.

History can be compared to an iceberg. What we know is the tip, peaking above the surface of the water, the visual evidence that it indeed exists. What we do not know- what is hidden from us- is the great mass looming beneath in the darkness. Although the tangible should be the foundation of our arguments, it is the mystery of what is unknown that strikes a unique fascination. The great Neolithic stone circles, ubiquitous in Britain, give us pause because we do not know who made them or what they mean. What is left to posterity is a tangible mystery that links us to these unknown progenitors. What they left has endured thousands of years and remained a part of the landscape, and as a consequence part of ours. They came before us, accomplished something grand, and though we do not know who they were or what they stood for as a people, we revere them without question because they shared the same ‘home’ generations ago as we do today. They left their mark, for better or worse, as we will.

So we carve our exits in stone, to stand above our remains with the hopes that future generations will remember us and the expired world in which we once lived. The reality, however, is that in no great amount of time the ground will take back even these monuments to our brief time in the world, ridding them of their human scars and absorbing them back into the ground.

Back to the dirt the stones go, crushed in the planet’s ceaseless motion- reclaimed, reworked and reformed, as it does us, back into the mysterious rhythms of birth and death. Perhaps it is only then that we are truly free to float in the anonymity of eons, without the futile attempts of eroded epitaphs- needless of words of remembrance.

Photo credit: Greg Ruffing