Plein Air poem for "Writing up The Gorge" at Columbia Center for the Arts:
All the Who’s in Whoville
By Barb Ayers www.DogDiary.org
Golden, glossy grains. Amber waves, curvy road. Buxom hills - fertile shapes. Farm gates open - tractor ready for labor.
Rows of neatly spaced trees – vigilant neighbors of tender and ancient vines of future wines. Some young grapes longing to grow up and move away – the rest of us savor sweet and mellow Mosier.
Downhill from Analemma winery, I’m drawn to a quiet place, where time stands still and always will. I can’t resist. I’ve never visited a cemetery voluntarily.
Massive oak - gnarled trunk - sky-high outstretched arms. The sentry. Patriarch, Caretaker, undertaker of dearly departed. He himself, more than 150 years old – keeper of Mosier memories - keeper of families loved and lost.
Gregarious neighbor trees twitter leaves, bearing witness.
I am - we are - here together. Me, in flip-flops, windsurf rig with dogs and gear parked just outside. Chatfield 1848-1909 welcoming me to the cemetery.
It’s not fancy, Mosier. She’s the soulful one, with much to say if you’re paying attention. Super-subtle. Caring for her own. No fanfare. No glossy green grass. No paved walkways. No gilded urns. No rows of perfectly aligned flags - though an orchard of noble veterans - thank you for your service.
My shadow, 2-stories-tall over James F. Wynn 1869-1901 and Ida, His Wife, 1873-1897. So young – I wish I knew their story. I send my 50-something heart their way in my silhouette.
James and Ida reply, casting headstone shadows over the Sendlings, one plot east. We all intertwine.
This place where the Roots put down roots – Root family tree buried ‘neath Caretaker oak.
Hewitt. Ireland. Elder. Herman. Middleswart. Kruger and Brooks. Some rustic, some elegant. Husbands (including His Wife,) Proctor, Evans. Holmes. Putnam. Rorden. Kennedy bench. Mosier generations – they’re all here.
I miss my family, all living elsewhere, none resting nearby. These are my people now.
Some, glossy granite. Some, lichen-laden pioneers. Some sweet-simple. One AstroTurf hangout. One Elton John “Friends” album, no explanation necessary.
It’s a Who’s-Who of Mosier. It’s Whoville.
Co-mingled with mole holes, grey diggers and chatter of birds. Empty flagpole clanging - safe harbor - church bell calling to service.
August breeze rustles leaves, the stillness broken. Siren call - red rose scent. In full bloom! Out standing in a field of dried-out arrangements! Here, where sun sets and nature cremates.
I feel them before I see them. Red rose drew me in – to their rows - my people. Wilson. One word – one name - overwhelming tears.
"Miss You So Badly" sang Jimmy Buffet.
My Wilson relatives – though I know them not.
Danita, Grant, Wilson, Huskey. Red, the family dog. Buried together. That’s how I know we’re family.
Grant “a servant to his community.”
Donita “a nurturer of quality of life for all.”
I’m humbled - neither serving, nor nurturing enough.
My Wilson family. I bought the Wilson farmhouse. On Wilson Road. Sears Catalog home, assembled before Mosier, 109 years ago. Warpy old windows. Century-old hardwoods.
In the heart of the cemetery, the most magnificent stone - Mosier. As in Mosier, Oregon population 430, incorporated 1914, just like the sign says.