128 / 365 – Cemetery

JEFF PETERSON

There’s a cemetery up along the Canadian border. At that place, the border seems like a very imaginary line drawn across the prairie. The border station is a little bit neglected. The buildings need some paint. There are tall light poles that shine all around where the cars come in. And there are fences and gates that surround it.

You walk a hundred yards east or west, though, and there’s nothing. Not even a road. Farmland comes right up to it and then stops. And there’s plowed land on the other side. The only way you can tell it’s even there is that the section lines don’t line up.  So I’m not sure what any of the lights and fences are controlling or keeping out. If you were trying to cross with something or someone you shouldn’t, you could just drive a little bit west or east and get across and there’s nobody out there to hardly notice or care. Sometimes I wonder what those crossing stations are for.

The cemetery is a few miles west. It’s off a dirt road, up a rutted track, enclosed by a belt of spruce trees. I’ve never seen anyone there, but someone must mow the grass. It’s never been overgrown.

The stones are old. Many of them are unreadable, especially the ones made of a white stone. You run your fingers over them and they feel grooved and carved, but not in a pattern of letters. I can’t tell what they say. Some of the stones are a gray veined granite. The newest one is from the 1950s. A Scandinavian name, Sveen. Not one I’ve ever heard around here. I looked it up in the phone book but there are none in there. I wonder what happened to the Sveens. Did they move away? Did the last Sveens have only daughters and the name fell away?

Between the cemetery and the dirt road there’s a small square lot. I wonder if there was once a tree there. The grass is high and there are some low shrubs growing. I’ve walked the lot but I don’t see signs of a foundation or any broken lumber. I feel sure there must have been a church here once. It’s as if the wind blew it away.

I’ve asked around, was there a town up there? Only one person in my congregation even knew there was a cemetery up there. He didn’t know it’s name or who might have built it.

It’s strange to think that once this was a place. A place that probably had a name. And now it doesn’t. A name that didn’t stick, chosen by people who didn’t stick. They all just blew away.

 

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