New England Sculpture

From JFA Newsletter no. 2, Spring 1990

"When Alexander Junkins, 1785-1844, was asked why he started a cemetery in his front yard he would smile and answer that when he was buried he desired to be where he could hear Parson Heminway preach on Sundays."

New England Register, 18721

"The other story of local tradition…is that the Selectmen desired to cut a road thro this side of his land; by establishing a cemetery where it was located just off the main highway they would not have authority to make the road as desired."

The Junkins Family of York County, Maine

Blacksnakes, dozing in the reflected heat of gravestones,
rose to his footsteps across the lawn. They taste his
coming in quivers on their tongues
and unravel to the higher grass. The graveyard is his
kingdom come.

Stepping over the iron fence he munches on crabapples.
Cores scatter the front yard like bones.
Two wives and three infant sons lie compact under his feet
It is Sunday, late August. Across the highway paint peels
from Second Parish Church.

Soon the snow geese will pass across the sky.

But now the doxology strains from the open church doors.
This preacher has ridden from Wells;
he is God's hummer, His blackcap; sermons jump from his
forehead; his false teeth click with God.
Alexander hears the bee buzzing to the apple juices on his
chin. The land is cross-stitched with his bones. Graves.
Seeds. Headstones. They break inside his head to burn and
sputter of the sun.

This graveyard is his fireplace.

Across the dusty road, Sunday service is over, and the
colors linger in the vestibule.

Beyond the summer dust, the harlequin does his
dance of death.

Reprinted by permission of Donald Junkins.

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