by Jake Peppiatt
The names here ring anvil-like with the staccato harshness of a central Europe they've never seen: Voltz, Knecht, Schultz, Arzst. Half a world from the Baltic but the snow and ice resting in the stone relief of so many Germanic and Slavic T's gives testament to our own high plains harshness. All the names face east not so that they may face the rising sun, as many believe, but so they won't be buried under the grainy, white drifts that taper off to the south from the leeside of the stones. The stones themselves taper, but in strain - the softer, 150-year-old limestone in the northeast hardening to predominantly granite in the more recent soutwest plots. Out from under the lone, pine sentinel, through the rusted, scrap-iron gate, the frozen ground falls gradually away across the short-grass pasture where cattle mill and mar the immaculate white to a quiet little creek that winds between high banks and icy edges. It is a beautiful place, and you may have been there before, but it is a long walk and not one you'd take unless you had to.
Jake Peppiatt in his 23 years, has been a fry cook, a farmer, a wildlife biologist, a machinist, a landscaper, a factory worker, a hunting guide, a cowboy, an editor, a painter, a contractor, a ditch-digger, and always a writer. He recently graduated from Kansas State University with a degree he's desperately trying to use.