And Haven’t Things Always Been Falling Down Around Us
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.