From Beyond the Grave

Sunday, October 2, 2005, Jamaica Plains, Massachusetts, I take a walk with animation artist Karen Aqua and jazz vocalist/media maven Ruthie Ristich through the eerie beauty of Forest Hills Cemetery. More than just a place to entomb the deceased, Forest Hills functions as a picnic, walking and bike riding wonderland, arboretum, performance venue for music and poetry in particular (since such luminaries as e. e. cummings and Anne Sexton are buried there), indoor art gallery, and outdoor museum for both 19th century and modern sculpture. The Forest Hills Trust commissions artists to create works that blend into the elegant and mysterious atmosphere of the 250 acre landscape that was originally designed in 1848 as Boston’s first public park.

Mitch Ryerson’s sculptures in particular draw us. On the Sunday we are walking, world musician Ricardo Frota brings a huge collection of percussion instruments for children and adults to play along with Ryerson’s permanently installed “marimba benches,” a set of wooden xylophones so strong one can sit on them.

A couple sits in Ryerson’s “poetry chairs” and admires the geese paddling upon Lake Hibiscus.

Ruthie gathers inspiration from within Ryerson’s poetry shrine.

Children play in a hundred-year-old weeping beech tree.

A sunlit winged goddess in a sacred grove.

Ghostly garments sewn of metal screening adorn a grove of trees.

I commune with a friend from the Other Side.