|The road through the city’s largest cemetery is lined with ancient flowering cherry trees and for a few days in spring, the canopy is a riot of pink. The petals fall like snow, forming drifts in the curbs. Although I would have sworn they were still leaved when I walked through here only last week, the trees are now bare and skeletal against the anvil gray sky. In the predawn light, the world looks to have been drained of color.
A crow squawks at me from its perch atop a pitted and moss-covered Celtic cross before flying off. I follow its flight, gazing across the expanse of stone monoliths and sundry statuary. I see too the other crows, hundreds of them perched on the grave markers. As the first crow passes, they launch themselves en masse, a storm of black that floods the sky.
No cars pass me along the way, nor do I see any as I exit the cemetery. Nothing is open, not even the 24-hour convenience store where I usually stop for coffee. I see no other people.
Because I can, I stand at the center of a usually busy intersection, marveling at the austerity of the cold, silent buildings towering above the empty streets. A slight breeze echoes down this steel and glass canyon, blowing a single sheet of an old newspaper against my legs. It’s faded and dirty, and the news stories are unremarkable, but the date catches my eye: December 20, 2012.