Sunday, August 01, 2004


There is an old Lutheran church in the north part of Kensington, north of Highway 36. There is an old Lutheran cemetery there, too. I can't help myself: I have to walk among the gravestones. The wind tries to talk to me. In the past I have tried to understand life by writing down so much of what I've found in cemeteries. I don't understand what I've already got so I decide not to write down anything more.

And yet I do. I must:

Alwina - wife of R.G. Nagel
April 17, 1899
May 26, 1919
"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path." - Ps. 119:105
Louisa - wife of Lorenzo Schnell
Died Dec. 19, 1891
Aged 51 years

I do not know where these women's husbands are buried. It is not here, not nearby. This is quite a large cemetery, so these women's bones are not alone. Yet where is the husband of each? Where have they gone off to? Why did they leave this mark of life's abandonment, these women's lonely bones here? The great wheel turns. I put sadness on my shoulder and carry it away.

Where I walk in the cemetery the grass is like straw. There are lots of little cactus plants, a reminder that - yes - this is the very western limit of the middle west. Out here where they measure their rainfall in hundredths of an inch.

The sun. The heat. The sorrow. It's not bad enough that I'm sad, now I walk back towards the car through the plot of children's graves. It's a wonder anyone survived at all to people this land.

I leave Kensington. I drive past the restaurant along the highway - CLOSED. Past the Great Plains Motel - CLOSED - FOR SALE.

These people carry on. You don't hear them complaining about their lot. You don't hear them talk about their sadness. I guess I might as well shut up about it myself.

I am quiet all the way back to Smith Center.

To be continued....


JULY 31, 1998

At the end of another month, a coolness in the morning air suggesting the day is poised between summer and fall. A moist, musky hang to the day, blue sky and planes, a squirrel leaping from tree to tree, a bird somewhere, angry. I sit in the pick-up, in my driveway, in the moment. Why would I want to move from here - this home, this place, this moment. The green hugeness of it all holds me.

Yet I must go to work, I suppose. Everything is that's anything is achieved with work, a good day's work.

Another squirrel, another plane, a stray cat on the lawn. Yeah, I head off to work.

Where the tree went down along Washington Street and took out the power line, it broke up the sidewalk too. That section of cement has been repaired. The stump of the tree is gone - all that remains is a mound of dirt and soon this too will be leveled. Then what will say anything to remember that tree?

A bank of clouds to the northwest. Are they a promise or a threat? We don't always know. One thing that is certain is that nothing is certain. The sure thing is a fool's bet. I'm not talking just about the weather.

The fields that had been corn stubble just south of Five Corners - planted to beans so late in the season - are thick and green right now. Everything comes 'round in due time, I guess.

Along Watson Street, green garbage cans are lined up, all ready for a green clamp to grab and hold them. Swing your partner, dosey-do!

Come on, Tom, they're just stinkin' garbage cans!

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