We collected the gray bones of porch,
smell of old man, tobacco,
brown arm of a driveway beaten down,
swayed with this under raw sun.
Each morning of 1971 an apple seed,
we swam in white flesh, bright skin.
Stretched out in that old farmhouse, plaster walls
torn down, new boards splintery, still smelling of pine,
in the kitchen a Modern Clarion, morning fire
nursed in the fuel box—so rich with ourselves
we slept under unmapped skies.
Summer earth turned for the garden, fields lined
with raspberry bushes, bodies crooning on new-mown hay,
laughter embraced us, thighs and arms sweaty,
Earl, Phil, Neil making music on that impromptu stage.
The cellar door raised on a pulley and we descended among
mottled rocks of foundation, fed the behemoth wood furnace
that bellowed heat. Snow, white above the windowsills,
glass frost-frocked, plastic leaning in. Animals exhaled
winter breath—goat with one horn, the psst of milk
hitting a bucket, iced webs of spiders, knotted burr-strung wool of sheep.
In the pantry blood red tomatoes in jars, five kinds of pickles—
untended, settled, anointed with years of dust.
Today remnants of this life. A house
covered over with green on Google Maps, matter
conserved in stalks of knotweed, in moldy fallen timbers.
Not dead, but layered in us, this template of home,
as we drive back roads, look into the eyes
of abandoned homes, past the hulk of old farm trucks.
It wells in us, like cumulus around our lungs,
like the water of Main Stream that fills the sinking boat
of our hearts, swamped in churning years,
these memories of place we cannot let go,
stitched in the infinity of our youth,
reconstructed as stories that we tell when power fails,
when we haul out kerosene lanterns again,
when we talk softly in light that falls like prayers.