PORTRAIT OF A CENTENNIAL COMMUNITY
Today I discovered the orange sign hanging in the lobby of the Post Office: CURFEW, Offenders under the age of 16, out after 10PM, will face fines up to 200$ and/or 30 nights in jail.
In back of town, bordering a cornfield, there is a white church, the kind whose circumference you can walk around in under a minute. It's a lovely church, the kind that doesn't reek of sexual abuse scandals, the kind that when it was built, when in 1903, men didn't know the scale of what a war could look like as it holds the whole world under its power, the kind that feels, somehow, like a nice place to sit for a while. The windows that used to let light into the basement are boarded up. A woman whose husband is a doctor, a woman who collects churches in the South Dakota tundra, she outbid a man, white-haired, formerly of the cloth, who wanted to convert the building into a community center, a lending library, because she wants to see it crumble to the ground.
Under the sign that tells you that you've found us, there used to be another sign that said WHERE THE GOOD PEOPLE LIVE. The next week it was replaced with LITTLE TOWN WITH A BIG HEART. Three days later, someone, the wind?, took it down.
Jenny Ferguson is a Canadian studying for her PhD at the University of South Dakota. Her first novel ___Border Markers___ is forthcoming from NeWest Press.