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Where the Heart Is at Peace

July 31, 2002

These are the opening paragraphs of John Sanford's forthcoming book, "A Palace of Silver":

Near one end of the Santa Barbara beach rises a hill called Bellosgarda, and spreading over its grounds is a cemetery. From the grounds, no part of the city can be seen; the view is of mountains inland and the Channel seaward, an expanse of some twenty miles to a chain of islands lying lavender along the horizon. Here and there, a cypress casts a filigree of shadow on the grass, and down in the hollows live oaks grow. Headstones are few, the new custom being a tablet of metal or marble set flush with the sward, and rows of these curve with the fluted contour of the hill. Roadways wind through the reserve and lay out irregular divisions, one of which runs along a cliff rearing from the water's edge. This land's-end place seems to be bounded only by sea and sky, and what sound can be heard there is the wind, the surf, and, if rain has fallen, the shrill of shore-birds come to probe the softened earth.

In one of the rows close to the cliff-face, a bronze plaque carries this inscription:

MARGUERITE

A. SANFORD

1905-1989

JOHN SANFORD

1904-

Ten years have passed since it was embedded in her grave, and its components of copper, tin, and zinc have begun to give it a dapple of brown and green. In days to come, this will deepen almost to the color of the turf, and by then you too will be under the memorial, and it will be others, if others ever come here, who remark on the patina and read the mottled names. Ten years have passed.

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