Last time home
Last time home was dismal although a bit therapeutic.
We went to see my parents’ graves and others’,
decided we should drive by the old house in Menan.
We drove slowly, noticed the sheds had been torn down.
The raspberries were gone too, same with the garden
and the old cement mixer that had mixed
more yards of cement than I can remember.
Mrs. Butterworth and Mrs. Beyeler were gone
too, gone long before. I do remember shoveling snow
at both their houses, watering their lawns,
and even hunting night crawlers, all entangled
after a good water and a full moon, waiting nonchalantly
before we grabbed and tossed them into bait cans.
I wondered whether the new people have ever heard a cow,
bellering to be milked or about my horse, three-years-old
and green broke, that died. We dragged her out to the field
with the Massey Ferguson tractor, both legs tied tight
with a chain from the barn. We had dug a deep, deep hole
over a few days, beneath a giant cottonwood.
We had said a few prayers and then shoveled the dirt on top of her.
I wonder if the new people know about the asparagus
that grows wild along the ditch bank that waters Hunting’s property.
Still, I wonder whether anyone remembered the woods
between Hunting’s property and Spring Creek, the pheasants
and magpies and the skunks and the little boys who roamed
those woods, thinking they were Daniel Boone and other fur trappers.
I wonder if the new people have ever hunted green heads
down along Spring Creek in the dead of winter
when your breath cracked every time you blew it out
and the incredible snow drifts that filled the ditches
and the swamp that allowed us to make snow forts and caves.
I wonder if the new people know how many raspberries,
potatoes, chickens, pigs, tomatoes, and rhubarb we grew there.
By that time the wondering waned—actually it never wanes—
we had crawled past the old place, the fence now leaning
closer to the ground than I remember. Much to my chagrin,
it’s not the same as we aren’t the same—changed
so subtly by our environment and life gnawing at us
from the outside and from within, slowly, deliberately.
Our memories now gnaw on us, growing
ever more grandeur than they ever were—
or should have been. But they are our memories,
fed by lazy clouds, fishing in Spring Creek,
and tag out back under the weeping willow.