Export: Writing the Midwest
The Hill in Marquette County
The rain barrel has collapsed into a sheaf
of curved boards held loosely in rusted loops.
How many years since I sat on this rock,
watching young sons at play in the sandblow,
watching the redheaded woodpeckers
feeding their young in the dead oak tree
by the fence line? Or later, the fledglings
learning to fly while my own hung skyward
in loops of three-hundred sixty degrees before
they plunged again downwards to meet
the plywood ramp they’d built in the meadow
of needle grass. It stands silvery now
after the thunderstorm, splintered wood
with its curves still smooth, the four-by-fours
stepping off their sturdy measures of arc,
well-made as the homes drilled year after year.
The sons plunge into their twenty-something
years, tattoo artist, brewmaster who calls this
the summer of love, though the limbs of the oak
have fallen now, the cedar shakes blown
from the shelter’s roof.
I want to cry sorry, sorry,
for the world I let fall away but the field
will have none of the story– the sandblow’s grown up
into pepper grass and juniper, field sparrows sing
from the blighted oak trunk, jeweled gold-and-green
flies buzz in June heat– no place less abandoned
than this. Nor did I forget the sky, its rainbows
and storms, its fledgling birds, its blond boys
turning in widening arc, bound now in memory’s hoop.
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