Sheldon Lee Compton

When the caretaker wakes, a light appears in one window of her tiny house like a cataract across a dark brown eye. She has spent unknown years walking the cemetery grounds, both in good weather and bad. In this way, she has been dedicated. But for all her time watching over the grounds, she has never been a very good caretaker. Always, in her heart, she hoped that one day she would wake and all the dead would simply be gone, their markers, like birds, having disappeared on the north wind. In the meantime, the cemetery has suffered from the disjointedness of her mind in solitude. Fits of crying have seen clusters of chickweed and ground ivy spring up around tombstones. Lonely nights have brought relief rainfall and flooding across the grounds. But this morning there is honeysuckle in the air and the spinning dance of a hundred small winds in broken notes and whistles. She begins to walk, and as she does a bank of clouds follows her, casting a deep shade far and wide, but she doesn't notice the clouds or the shade or how the shade curls the chickweed and ivy as it passes over. Like this, the end begins, as innocently as a stammer. Her last walk is like that of a sickle to the wheat, a quiet force clearing a path as the tombstones become a mirage of letters and specked granite, rippling in stillness and seeming, finally, to take to the sky.

Sheldon Lee Compton's most recent book is BROWN BOTTLE, a novel.

Read his postcard.

Detail of photo on main page courtesy of scrappy annie.

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