ART NOTES from Alice Lynn: Walking the Songlines in Park Cemetery

Volunteers Young and Old.

The dream came to me in my garret studio at the top of a brownstone on a curving street in the heart of Manhattan’s Greenwich Village.

In the dream I was standing on the edge of the world. Enchanted I watched the silhouettes of feral Australian brumby ponies running across the backdrop of a magnificent full moon shining larger than our globe.

Waking, I knew I must go look for the brumbies in Australia’s Blue Mountains. I did. I got a visa. I read about my destination and planned my solo circuit: I would hostel on my own from Sydney to Canberra and back.

I toured the flying opera house. Sheep stood patiently while I helped shear them on a ranch that went on forever. I visited the Fairy Penguins of Philip Island. A kangaroo jumped in the road in front of me while I drove west almost blinded by the setting sun.


Seagulls stole my breakfast of scones. I saw art in the major museums and in tiny galleries, too. Trekking through and climbing the highest peak in the Blue Mountains I never saw the brumbies. Their sighting is waiting for another trip.

Of all I read about Australia before I went down under, “The Songlines” written by Bruce Chatwin, stays with me yet. In “Songlines” Chatwin tells about the nomadic travels of the land’s indigenous peoples—how, led by their ancestors and spirits, they listen and follow the songlines of the earth until they stop and sit down.  When they sit they rest and wait for their souls to catch up with them.

My own songlines have led me to New York City and back to Arkansas and into the wilderness and finally to Missouri. I am following my songlines still.

These days, almost every morning our Aussie Lasyrenn and I walk the songlines of the Silent City in Park Cemetery here in Carthage. In and out we weave between the stones. Round and round we go amongst the ancestors and the spirits going nowhere. Sometimes we just sit with them and they with us. Together we wait for my soul to catch up with me. We wait for my soul to catch up and give me a sign telling me where and how I am to walk when I get up and get going again.

My husband David is being patient with all this walking and waiting and resting and listening. I am grateful. My soul’s catching up and the signs of the songlines are not to be rushed.

For today there are many, many signs fluttering over the spring green landscape of this Silent City. Volunteers young and old are walking the songlines, reading the stones and placing a flag of stars and stripes for each person who has served to keep us safe. For each sign fluttering above a valiant soul at rest here, I am grateful.

A flag for each who has kept us safe.