When Cedar first came in to the city, the words were spaced far enough apart that she had to pick her way through the streets as though they were so many streams dotted with stepping stones. They were simple words at first, nouns or verbs, ‘rock’, ‘grass’, ‘run’, ‘aspirin’, and so on, but more and more often she’d find a larger swirl of them, sentences and paragraphs, pieces of history loose on the surface of the city:

Here was hung on this day 1853 Alexander Young for the crime of theft without the sanction of law. There was no doubt about his guilt, but the leaders of the mob were driven from town by the founders, who were ever afraid of mob rule.


Sarah Alcott lost her laundry in the windstorm of 1967. Her Sunday bests were found tangled on the steeple of the church two weeks later.

The further into town she went, the more entwined and tangled the words became, until they began to overlay each other and she could walk normally, swinging yard by swinging yard, feet pacing through the endless history of a place deserted.