One morning, bunch of years ago, in 2002, 2003, can't remember for sure, the blonde and I rode our bikes out to Morris Island, the large hump of sand at the southern end of town where the Monomoy Wildlife Reserve begins with a jump over the channel to North Monomoy Island. We leaned our bikes up against a then brand new bath house and wandered over to a cleared space in the sea grass that seemed marked out for a garden. And there in the dirt was a stone decorated with sea shells and inscribed to the memory of someone named Peter. Besides giving the man's name, the stone said, "A place for him to watch over his Cape Cod girls."
We puzzled over this, wondering who he was and how old he was when he'd died and when he'd died and who those Cape Cod girls were and in what way were they his. We speculated about the significance of the spot which seemed to offer no overlook of anything much. The ocean is practically out of sight behind a hedgerow, Monomoy Island, North and South, are hidden from view by woods. Of course we understood that it was his spirit that was meant to be doing the watching, presumably from a higher vantage point. But it still seemed to us that the spot itself must have meant something and that spot didn't seem all that special. If those Cape Cod girls of his were friends or family, it seemed unlikely that this bleak patch of sandy ground, which, besides not being very scenic, was rather exposed to the wind and weather, was a spot where they would have come to play or picnic. The phrase "his Cape Cod girls" threw us a bit too. Did he have other girls in other vacation spots? Or were these girls his Cape Cod girls because it was on the Cape that they were all happiest together?
Yesterday, when I was out there again, back for the first time since, I discovered that the stone is no longer his only monument. There's a double-backed bench now with his name carved into it. The bench is angled so that it faces a bird feeder where some chickadees were perching and having a snack.
The spot marked for a garden is a garden now and daisies bend and wave over the stone almost hiding it.
And it occurred to me that his "girls" might have been flowers or they might have been birds or they might have been both and that he might have used to come out here to watch over them where they lived.
Then I noticed that the bench was also carved with the dates of his birth and his death.
He'd died young at thirty-six.
On September 11, 2001.
I looked him up on the web when I got home.
His girls were his two daughters and his wife, and this, the Cape itself if not this particular spot, must have been what we'd thought, the place where they were all happiest together.