In the two weeks between closing on our house and moving in a couple of years ago, I had anxiety dreams about my neighborhood. Once home to Camp Chase, a Union military base and prisoner-of-war camp for Confederate soldiers, this cemetery is all that still stands.
I dreamed that the ghosts of these men wandered the streets here at night. And that there were so many of them, I’d have to drive through a fog of gray, opaque bodies just to get home from the grocery store.
We took a walk to the cemetery today — a perfect All Saints’ Day — just after watching pundits on HBO joke that this moment in history calls for a leader, specifically “someone like Lincoln, not someone who’s winkin‘.” It seemed appropriate to pay respects at the graves of 2,260 former countrymen, 2,260 former enemies, 2,260 men supposedly mourned by a “gray lady” at dusk who searches the tombstones for the one with her husband’s name.
The site is crunched between stark emblems of urban life. There is an ugly apartment building full of one-room flats and the “Dari Twist” – an ice cream stand with dozens of soft-serve flavors. A platform area that was likely built as a place for annual ceremonies that honor the dead is surrounded by a moderate amount of garbage and graffiti.
A group of skater punk teens filed in as we got ready to leave, settling in for a visit on the platform. They smoked cigarettes and noshed on Halloween candy. Two of them kissed each other as we took a last look at a cannonball that had been fired in a civil war battle, set in stone by the gate.
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