Turn left off the gravel road,
park halfway down the rutted lane
near the “eroding eyesore” that dares
to whisper a family once lived here.
Find the remains of a farmhouse,
barn, and silo surrounded by acres of corn
and soybeans. In the silence, only the wind
will rush out to see who has come home.
Walk around a bit. A section of the barn
sinks among pigweeds, cockleburs, thistles.
In the house where a piano once stood,
the oaken floorboard have been stripped.
It’s hard to believe, but a wooden swing
still creaks on the crumbling front porch.
Dirty white slats dangle at odd angles
from rusty chains like sturdy bones.
Go ahead, try it out. Slide down onto
the scarred boards. Shift weight to center
and push off against cracked cement
as the corroded links shriek in protest.
Sit still as the wind touches nose, mouth,
ears like a blind man searching his memory
for your name, like a holy man feeling
around for a soul to raise from the dead.
Don’t be scared. Listen to the pines murmur
in the north grove, rows of cornstalks whisper
down long green tunnels. Soon, you’ll hear
your name echo across the barnyard.
Go now. Into a past of crowded kitchen tables,
slamming doors, a yard light on all night,
the scent of four o’clocks in the garden.
Close your eyes. Inhale. Exhale.
Published in Plainsongs, 2006