St Margaret’s/Oakwood Cemetery

In 1919, Zelda wrote a letter to F. Scott Fitzgerald – she describes the cemetery and a particular grave. Scott’s This Side of Paradise, his first literary success, was inspired by the letter and used sections by Zelda verbatim.

Scott, my darling lover – everything seems so smooth and restful, like this yellow dusk. Knowing that I’ll always be yours – that you really own me – that nothing can keep us apart – is such a relief after the strain and nervous excitement of the last month. I’m so glad you came – like Summer, just when I needed you most – and took me back with you. Waiting doesn’t seem so hard now. The vague despondency has gone – I love you Sweetheart.

Why did you buy the “best at the Exchange”? – I’d rather have had 10 cent a quart variety – I wanted it just to know you loved the sweetness – To breathe and know you loved the smell – I think I like breathing twilit gardens and moths more than beautiful pictures and good books – It seems the most sensual of all senses. Something in me vibrates to a dusky, dreamy, smell – a smell of dying moons and shadows –

I’ve spent today in the graveyard. It really isn’t a cemetery, you know, – trying to unlock a rusty iron vault built into the side of the hill [1]. It’s all washed and covered with weepy, watery blue flowers that might have grown from dead eyes – sticky to the touch with a sickening odor [2] – The boys wanted to get in to test my nerve – tonight – I wanted to feel “William Wreford, 1864.” Why should graves make people feel in vain? I’ve heard that so much, and Grey is so convincing, but somehow I can’t find anything hopeless in having lived – All the broken columns and clasped hands and doves mean romances – and in a hundred years I think I shall like having young people speculate on whether my eyes were brown or blue – of course, they are neither – I hope my grave has an air of many, many years ago about it – Isn’t it funny, how out of a row of Confederate soldiers, two or three will make you think of dead lovers and dead loves – when they’re exactly like the others, even to the yellowish moss? [3] Old death is so beautiful – so very beautiful – We will die together – I know –



I wish I had photographed in April when there were still many blue flowers around the grave. I slipped a copy of Zelda’s letter through a crack in the door.


The man inside had one arm. He ran the One-Armed Man’s General Store in downtown Montgomery through the Civil War. His vault has been broken into many times.  Most of his bones, including his other arm, are missing. What’s left is inside a canoe shaped iron coffin. He had the mausoleum built for 7 – but no one else was ever entombed there.


About Morgan Sanders

My work addresses collective identity – how it is created and performed – and currently, the contradictions that become apparent in political posturing. I am interested in the tensions between political power and moral authority, and how they are often masked by a devotion to legislating matters of the body. The Family, a Christian fundamentalist organization whose members include U.S. Senators and Congressmen, is territory where we see the inconstancy of the masked figure. A platform of family values clashes with scandals of infidelity, and benevolent proselytizing blends with incendiary rhetoric. The Family's work has catalyzed anti-gay legislation in the Ugandan parliament that calls for executing the HIV positive population. Political members of The Family exploit Christian texts and morality in an attempt to govern the body, while at the same time, the news is saturated with extramarital affairs and other transgressions by these same politicians, most notably Senator John Ensign and Governor Mark Sanford. I am currently using my blood to render the politicians who are Family members, binding them to their notions of the abject and base, as well as the source of their anxieties – gay blood. Imbued with the stigma of disease, I use blood to render narratives of violence and to interrogate the formal neutrality of political portraiture. As the work expands, I have begun to inhabit the identities of these political figures by creating masks, which allow performances of their contradictory behavior – playfully pornographic tableaus that puncture images of authority.
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