A marker represents the only remaining vestige of a town that used to be. The railroad passed Sparta, Louisiana by, and took with it, the town itself.
What is it like to be here one day and gone the next – to be something and then nothing – to exist then to cease to be?
It happens to everything and everyone, even to those who arrogantly think they can escape it, like Shelley’s Ozymandias:
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
Though I know they’re only a postponement of my disappearance, I use words to challenge oblivion. They’re a way to while away until I go the way of Sparta.