In Baltimore’s American Visionary Art Museum stands the only known work by an unnamed British tubercular patient. Carved from the trunk of a fallen apple tree, the piece is spare and lean, a sorrowful figure whose sunken chest mirrored the sculptor’s own diseased torso.
I am reminded of this work when my wife and I are touring Montpelier, James Madison’s plantation home in Virginia. The guide points to a wooded area where archeologists discovered the slave cemetery, a forgotten plot of ground marked only by shallow indentations in the soil.
the open gate
of dry leaves and weeds