And Haven’t Things Always Been Falling Down Around Us

And Haven’t Things Always Been Falling Down Around Us

 

Come.

Forty years gone, I can still show you

the ruins we used to poke around in.

 

Great Grand Daddy’s home place

up the holler. Even then, nothing but foundation

stones, moss woolly and sprouting yellow root.

 

The cabin, dismantled and hauled out

back in the forties, raised up again

nearer the road and Aug Andreae’s

 

big house, all the better to serve them.

Grand Daddy stayed on and now, Daddy,

returned there by a soured marriage.

 

And just down the hill, above the hog pen,

the remains of the toppled barn, the loft

we jumped around in till the corner poles

 

began to teeter left and right, too far off plumb.

Granny had her boys dismantle that one, too,

warned us off the sinking pile of rotting lumber

 

and rusty nails with the threat of lockjaw and copperheads.

Across the creek, bats lured us into the attic of the abandoned

Beck House, and sent us screeching back down

 

the elegant staircase strewn with yellowing papers

and moldy shoes, random kitchen implements.

We witnessed the disintegration of an entire estate

 

reclaimed by vine and litter. By the time I left, the roof

and second floor had caved, lath and plaster hanging

in condemned slabs, our poking and pilfering confined

 

to the gardens away from the faltering house, a fracas

of trumpet vine and narcissus, armloads of spring

daffodils, stray hyacinths and roses wandering

 

stubbled stone fountains, crumbling arches. Our teeth

and bones are now giving in to the same song

just as swiftly, but no more so,

 

and can’t you just smell the perfume of late summer

scuppernongs and muscadines climbing trunk to tree top,

fruited canopy sprawling pine to pine to chimney since long before

 

we knew the give of soft earth under our feet, the promise

to bloom and bear long after we have returned there,

sweet as wild cherry blossoms, rare as the persistent trillium.

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