Letter to the editor by Joanie Sommers,
Lake Geneva writer, musician and woman of the world.
I was recently visiting Oak Hill Cemetery tending to the grave of an old friend. Weeding and such, making it a prettier place for new flowers. A hanging geranium, peach and with dark green leaves. The visit was to ask questions about life, and my for the peace that a graveyard can offer. Amongst stones old and new, ornate and chiseled, gray and crumbling. Always with a name and a date. Family groupings. Those with a beginning and an end. Those with a beginning and a dash. The children come to visit, avoiding the dash, awaiting the engraver’s chisel. Their spot. This grave of my friend says “Beloved Father,” next to “Beloved Mother.” Daughter not yet. I imagine his smiling face. I hear his southern voice. I can see nobody’s been there. Maybe moved to another state. I finish up and hang the geranium basket on its curving metal pole over the granite stones. I stand back in admiration of the green and flowers. I ask how he’s doing. I request an invisible visit for my son. I give the sign of the cross even though I’m not Catholic. And I end it. I look up through the acres of tombstones, and as usual, I walk and wind up the road, contemplating stranger’s names and dates.
As I am engrossed in the mossy stone of a baby who lived only a short two months in the 1800s I hear far off singing. A little creepy, I must admit. Thinking “I gotta get out of here.” I see a flock of turkeys beelining through the oak trees to my right. I read recently of a gang of turkeys in Massachusetts terrorizing the locals. They were ‘knocking’ at the windows of an old folks home. How polite. I’m afraid of the turkeys. I keep still and make sure my keys don’t make any noise. Then I think about Massachusetts turkeys and how different Wisconsin turkeys have to be.
In Wisconsin the turkeys forage for acorns, scratch for crack corn, nibble up fallen loganberries and dance in the chuffa patches and sometimes sit upon their clutch of spotted eggs, turning them every hour for twenty-eight days, softly clucking out lullabies to imprint their little bundles of joy.
I put me fear aside and get some photos of the turkeys.
They keep walking. The chortling stops. No gobbling.
Wattles swinging in the breeze.
Just silence and beauty among the many headstones.
Turkeys, headstones and I.