By Miles Harvey
Featured Art: A Graveyard and Steel Mill in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania by Walker Evans
Time forks, perpetually, into countless futures. . . . In most of these times, we do not exist;
in some, you exist but I do not; in others, I do and you do not; in others still, we both do.
—Jorge Luis Borges, “The Garden of Forking Paths”
“Was she a relative of yours?” the old man asks, leading me toward your grave.
“Well, not exactly,” I begin to reply. “She—”but then I pause. In the middle of my sentence, in the middle of my life, in the middle of some small-town cemetery in the middle of the Midwest, I pause, unable to explain who you are or why I’m here. What I would tell the man, if it didn’t sound so absurd, is that although I am not your descendant, although I only recently learned of your existence, although you barely left a mark on the world, and although your corpse was buried here more than forty years before I was born, I can’t get you out of my mind. What I would recount, if I could figure out a simple way to do it, is the history of happenstance that connects me to you across the years, a bond that at this moment feels almost as strong as the ties of blood. What I would confess, if I wasn’t worried he’d laugh in my face, is that I woke up this morning, a couple months shy of my fiftieth birthday, certain I had to drive more than one-hundred miles from Chicago to visit a total stranger’s grave in this tiny hamlet of Dana, Illinois. Read More