Monday, November 9, 2009

between ruins & artifacts

there’s a model T truck
between the chicken house and the diesel tank
as testament to honest decay.
one day it broke down
and it’s been there ever since.

b’longed to a great uncle i never met
one of grampa’s six brothers.
windshield’s intact.
doors have a wooden frame.
wheels have wooden spokes.
skeleton springs of the truck’s seat
rest atop the gastank.

a dog called spike spent the leisure hours
of his entire life laying around
on the back of that rusted pickup
to sun or shade depending the time of day
on a bed of sheets of corrugated tin.

all through the woods
sit rusty forgot machines
cars, combines, cornpickers
hulks of halted motion
frozen by water’s unimproving stain.
streaks run to earth
wash machines left to rest
past being scavenged for parts.

there’s the old coupe out the bathroom window,
remnants of other model Ts along the driveway,
a fender, a front-end, a bumper
beside a far barn there’s a band of chevys from the fifties and an old buick

disused or spent
obsolete or blown over
til they gathered patina enough
to upstage reclamation.

horsedrawn wagons
metal fittings given shape
by grey mossy wood
that crumbles under scrutiny.

400 yards from the house grampa built
is the home place
the house grampa was born in.
three room frame house on a loose stone foundation
hand-hewn stone steps to the front porch
rock balanced on rocks
with no mortar
unoccupied since grampa’s father died in the early fifties
it’s been used for storage
by a bevy of relations

the remnants of long dead great-grandparents
the few things no one ever deemed of enough value to remove
mingle with things stored in the subsequent fifty years

some unknown relative’s easyboy
my little brother’s childhood books
my aunt’s console tv
broken 78s
old greeting cards sent with penny stamps
great-grampa’s overalls and shirts
hung on nails in a corner behind a door
the little pink chair of my childhood
more ruined furniture

the woodbox in the kitchen is full
the cookstove is gone

close to the homeplace is the old barn
and the fallen corncrib
where grampa got snakebit in the twenties
he had to ride a horse five miles to the nearest car
to get to the doctor

in any building hang signs of inhabitants
under hillsides and along the road

other buildings left behind:

the house on the Pappas place
is a sagging foundation.

the nearly absent tarpaper shack
on the far forty acres
a black man lived in after the war.

the house over in the bottom,
down the holler a couple miles from the big pond,
that belonged to one of grampa’s older brothers.
it folded in on itself
and the foundations filled with water.

the little shack of a log outbuilding
where i always wanted to live for a summer
and buzzards nest underneath.

a sawmill with a 4 foot blade
and a tin roof barely 5 feet high.

the garage at laura’s house
was put up and never sided.
the materials wait inside
after thirty years.
there’s a ’77 lincoln mercury,
a ’54 chevy, two pickups
and a lawn tractor
in and around the garage.
all of which have run
in the last 15 years.
otherwise the building is occupied
by furniture, a cookstove, tools and toys
dead leaves and any number of animals
that command the respect of a warning.

there’s a lot of stone fence
where barbed wire stands
to eliminate the necessity
of piling stones
that make their entropic progress
down off the fence.

things left to be what they are
when there’s no use
to put them to directly.

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