Big Bridge #10

Export: Writing the Midwest


Robin Chapman


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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