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.