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Travelogue L4

September 12, 2019

Between the warm drink and the gloom, I could almost imagine myself in a rather macabre tea-house. Around ran the elegant red-stone arches and headstones set in the walls; above extended the ceiling of dark boughs and backlit leaves. It brought to me the wild, painted plant-life overrunning the walls of an old Franciscan church which I had once seen in Poland. Although the church interior had sought to imitate the exterior through human artifice, this courtyard had found a second life as an unexpected interior.

Keen though I was to find the Western end, I soon gave myself over to simply following my eye wherever it led. It brought me, at times, past writhing bronze sculptures, at others, below brick chapel towers. At last I bent my steps back towards the entrance, only to find myself, several turns later, walking through a gallery which would not have looked out of place in a fine arts museum, save for the marble grave-markers lining the floor. Picking my way between them, I advanced towards a large chamber branching off from the gallery, a chamber which, at a glance, housed the mortal remains of a merchant family, prosperous in this life if not in the next.

To one side rose a line of scaffolding, paints, brushes and tarps at the ready. The sight jarred a thought loose in my brain: no less than the living, the dead had need of renovations from time to time. For the interior through which I strode was both something more and something less. If the open air and stream of visitors made it a poor substitute for an interior, it had the merit of reminding visitors of the most exterior of exteriors through which humans inevitably pass: that which lies outside of human experience, death.

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