Shrine

image

The only image of the old farmhouse
hung for years, small on the living room wall–
a hand-colored photograph framed in wood.
This profile view of weathered, clapboard home
breathed ruin. Orange tongues traced the roofline,
shot from every window, tumbled through walls
already gone, roared out open-mouth porch
overhung by attic lip. Smoke billowed,
beams borne away as gray ash. All lost: home
forever standing, forever burning.

[The farmhouse burned down 75 years ago today (19 October 1940)]

After Everyone is Gone

Fireflies of memory
flash
in the darkened rooms,
greet my silent passage
with light from unexpected angles.

The past made new
each moment,
a startling shock
of the familiar—
which also grounds me.

Another green ghost rises,
illuminates my face
and disappears
into a darkness
greater than before

while I navigate
the old familiar rooms.

Driving it Home

Alone, driving down a country road
close to what was home, I hear my mother’s voice.
I see her hand point to each farmhouse and lane.

She tells me who lived where when she was a girl.
But all I hear are general tones,
because the words have gone.

Farm fields stretch on like urban blight inner city blocks
strained to their breaking. Two miles to the next corner.
Right, then five miles more. Turn upon turn of absence.
The bleached white bones of loss lie scattered, unclaimed.

The car rattles up its lane to the familiar cedar shingled frame.
Park inside the old shed, it’s soul wrapped in metal.
Dad drove every nail. The barn, the shop
all in dust and disarray of the last days
which lasted for years.

I walk in the house, set the keys on the table.
No need to say I’m home for the ghosts all know,
glide around in whispers.

Open the fridge, pour a glass of milk.
Ten leftover containers seethe with curdled discontent.
Shut the door.

Sit for hours
and watch the faces on the walls
drift back deeper.

He Thinks He’s an Artist

The cool walk of rain
across the field
with its countless feet
blue buzz reciprocal blade
whining shriek as it cuts
floor boards
water and blood in wooden boxes
tung oil smooth sealed
paper umbrella
sways over
departing figure
from farmhouse
no one sees or knows
the effort involved
the weight of the body
so many pieces
neatly disposed

===
This fractured bit of macabre for @dVersePoets Open Link Night. Posting there at 2 p.m. CDT.

A condensed, clearer variant, or at least one interpretation:

artists, ghouls,
shoot poses
of the dead
they rearrange,
sometimes reassemble.

Discoveries

A Childhood

Dad long gone
and mom at work,
I walked alone,
an explorer
through the wood,
to strange fields
which faced
an unknown road.

A decaying house
stood just beyond the trees.
Tractor treads
crushed a circle path
in the grass
around its bare
clapboard frame.

Through the rippled windows
I saw every room was empty,
ancient wallpaper flaking
to the floor,

except an old gray suit jacket
hung from a wire hanger
on a bedroom door.

Drying wheat stalks
rustled in June breeze.
Birds flitted
among maples
and oaks,
calling to each other.

I turned back
toward home,
just a different
emptiness.