Frank Little’s flowers

Mountain View Cemetery, Butte, Montana. Bordered by a highway, a Super WalMart and the Bert Mooney International Airport. The front acres are groomed, discrete and squared, but the back field sighs on and on, dry and thatchy, to the barb-wire fence at the rear edge. Wild grasses stretch tall and thick there; in the hot wind they are a blowing curtain, veiling and blurring in the shadows of the hazy mountains. Families clump near the entrance, shapes on a silky lawn watered a comforting green. But in the back, an animal slinks across the path, then another: small and red, untame. Two fox pass through their hole beneath the fence, from one secret place to another.

There are graves among the tall grasses, unkempt and abandoned. The graves of a generation who no longer have families to fret over their final property. These acres are for meandering, not paying attention, for considering death on a distant, impersonal level. But stop. Amid the anonymous drought, one completely trimmed, decorated, beloved grave. It rises like a parade float from the earth, hung with red, pink, blue, and yellow silk flowers, a candle with much wax left to burn, a little flag or two.

1879 – 1917

The only long-gone to be remembered, ninety-three years after death by abduction and hanging, on the edge of town, over a railroad trestle, his murderers never pursued. Among the eclipsing grasses and the foxes stealing memory, this man is still pushing rebel daisies.


She’s growing thin and wobbly. Can’t eat like she used to. She seems to have lost her sense of smell, and her eyes are tired, half-closed. We buried her sister on the mountain last summer; by now the snow is falling over the body. Where will we bury her? It is too cold to dig the earth now. Sometimes I hear her struggle, from the next room, where I sit and read library books and pretend not to think of her. I wish she would die and get it over with, and also I wish for her to linger, for us to enjoy what is left of her company for a few days more. Thus, I give her peanut butter, but not vitamins—love, but not a fight.