Suddenly it was August 25th 2014, a complete rotation of the earth around the sun. During those 365 days, eight pieces of literature were hibernating under the earth at Lancaster’s Buchanan Park.
I’m going to jump ahead and spoil the question that this article series asks: YES.
The idea was this:
1. Let’s have a picnic at Buchanan Park in Lancaster City.
2. Let’s (all eight of us) free-write on a single prompt together.
3. Let’s rip the pages out of our notebooks, put those pages in a glass mason jar, and push that jar into the ground.
4. Let’s dig a hole, take some pictures, and use our collective memory to mark the spot in the earth.
5. Let’s take pictures
6. Let’s do one of those cool group-moves that sports teams do where they all put their hands in the middle and then yell something.
A few weeks ago was a year, and we followed through.
It was exciting being back at the park, in the shade of the same widespread pine tree. Some of us hadn’t hung out in a year; some us of now lived together. We all sat on blankets and talked, ate snacks, and joked, “What if we can’t find it?”
Well, at first we couldn’t. It took some detailed cross-referencing with those disposable-camera film photos from that first day; it took a lot of little trowel- holes, a lot of discussion.
But when we struck the glass, we found our jar intact, sealed tight, holding a series of items:
A piece of string
A cicada shell
and the following poems:
How Is The Sun Touching Me
by Erin Dorney
Maybe if I was buried for one year I could forget all of the words that have ever been spoken. With a thick layer of soil above me I would certainly forget the sound of raindrops on overturned plastic buckets, golf balls smashing through panes of glass, and cicadas shivering off their skins.
Maybe if I was buried for one year I would want to stay buried for a second year, a third, a fourth—maybe I would stay buried until I turned fifty, emerging from the ground only after my reproductive organs were useless pieces floating inside my gut.
If you laid down above me, on a thin cotton blanket, pressed your ear to the ground and listened closely, I might/might not whisper I’m coming home soon.
Wrong Kid Died
by Ellen Thilo
From under the gladstone overhead
I am surrounded, trapt in a world once silent
and one year later
Ascend like kings
my soul for glory
You Are To Be Buried For a Year
by Tyler Barton
I am not you, so no, I will not talk about the worms. I know the second you think about the earth, you will see the worms in your eye holes, and the whole gorging-on-my-flesh dirtiness, so no. This is not for you any way.
It is for me sleeping self I write this. Being that the hole is already dug (I wouldn’t have laid it out in the sun like that) my advice to me is this:
- Read a lot. Bring books. Use time wisely as your mother used to say.
- Bring nuts. It’s going to be a food that nourishes. If you survive (and I doubt you will) you’ll be thinking peanuts, almonds, you’ll wake up praising the Greek god of the nut. They won’t even take up much room.
- Pay keen attention to smell.
- Given you are alive and kicking when the box is opened in a year, greet the old new world you knew with respect; do not try to profit. Meaning, don’t sell tickets. Don’t write a book and start a cult and become the new messiah. We don’t need anymore of those.
- Also, bring beef jerky.
- Bring porn. They still make it in magazines. There’s no wifi underground.
- Try eating bugs. For protein, for boredom, whatever, just try it why not who cares.
- When you–if you–come up out of the ground in 12 months, you won’t sleep for a year I’ll bet. This isn’t really advice. Just a wager.
- Clear up all your squabbles and trifles. Forgive everyone and pay them all back the money you owe them. You don’t want to spend all those hours wishing you had told whoever you loved them. You don’t want to enter this with resentment. Be a clean slate. Peaceful. You also don’t need anyone cursing you while you’re down there because you need all the luck you can get, all the karma and positive energy you can get.
- Almost forgot–meditate. Learn how. If you can meditate and basically fast down there for a year you could come back a Buddha. You’d have to leave the porn though.
- And if you do come back the Buddha…don’t start a cult. I know I already said this but don’t do it. Don’t cash in. Don’t do what David Blaine would do, whatever you do.
- I’m going to end before the unlucky number. Okay: wait until three days before you get out and make a to-do list. Don’t make one the second you’re in there, and don’t make one now; things will change. Make a list during your last days down there of what you’ll do when you climb out and I promise you’ll do every thing.
by Sam Sweigert
When I lay on my stomach my legs
automatically curl back behind me
like a faded heat desert bug, and I
-scraping up the ground.
-clapping my feet together.
I fold in on myself in front of people
and it’s awkward.
I imagine I am part of a circus, and
this is my act of contortion.
—why people pay money to be ringside.
—why popcorn is shoved beneath floorboards.
The way I relax is body percussion
and it’s awkward.
My hair is one-sided and I have grass
from my knees to my neck,
and my freckles fall out of my shoulders.
—seep into the groundwater.
—morph into tiny bugs.
I am little dots and particles pieced together
and it’s awkward.
by Alyssa Giannini
The sounds of the city
can be muffled if you try
in a park,
you can hear the breeze through the trees
spokes of a bike
chirp of a bird
cicadas singing summer’s end in a park,
you can find grass
between your toes
the sun touching rose petals
or skeletons of insects resting
on a bed of pine needles
and for a moment
you can forget the brick and cement
hurry of impatient cars
in favor of
simpler joys, gentler surroundings
For a timecapsule, this was clearly a short one. But for a writer, a year is a long time to take before looking back at something you wrote. We’d all changed our lives: one of us had moved to Washington state, two of us had graduated college, two had left their jobs, many had started new ones. Most of all, we’d all grown a lot as artists. Seeing an artistically year-younger-you is like looking at greying photograph, but for an artist of any kind, this recognition is vital and beneficial.
Knowing that it is essential to track one’s progress, to mark time, to celebrate time: we wrote again. And we buried it again (with more people this time). And we’ll be back at that tree next August.
(video by Aaron Spangler)