what i recall

dear friends…
i wrote this in the car, coming home from our
trip to our farm 2 weeks ago. i’ve been holding it
back because, well, there is a lot to digest here,
a lot of words and a lot of details you don’t know
because i haven’t written about them, except in
metaphors. if you choose to read this, and i will
understand if you don’t, just know that there is
healing and reconciliation, of so much of the
tragedy that is my childhood and family history.

there are no metaphors in this writing, everything
written here is true. there is also a larger message
about how we live now, versus how our parents did just
a few decades ago, a message that’s close to my heart.
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the farm 016
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and driving down the simple gravel road, our recent visit done,
slowly…past the tall rows of corn standing their sentry post
this once random parcel of land, hidden amidst 1000’s of acres
that felt like Home to me the minute the white clapboard house
suddenly appeared in the surprise clearing, over ten years ago

…and I recall what i heard then,
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the easy after dinner conversations
and commitment, a family reciting
its oral history to their children.

the southern rooted melancholy
of the music, this east coast boy
never could appreciate until now.
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and as we took one last last look
down the gravel road road towards
the house, before driving to Chicago

both our hearts so tethered to this farm
Scout with her memories and me with mine
so we sang in harmony to our favorite road trip song
Patty Loveless singin’ ’You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive’

‘But the times, they got hard and tobacco wasn’t selling
And old grandad knew what he’d do to survive
He went and dug for Harlan coal
And sent the money back to grandma
But he never left Harlan alive’

that Scout could get this shy one to sing…
that this scared kid, did manage to escape Brooklyn alive
that no other house I owned, spoke Home like this farm
that it’s just all too much to absorb sometimes

i recall what I heard listening to Carl
a retiree now, still living in the next farm over
in the brightest moonlight he could ever remember
stroll his field, just to hear the snap of the corn grow

i recall Aunt Shirley, who’s not even my blood
on the phone that afternoon, ask which I wanted
should she make apple or peach cobbler for dessert
and then apologizing, ‘‘cause the edges they were burnt.’

that this family has so folded me into their clan
that an orphan with no family of his own…now does
that it’s all been done without a single word about it
that it’s all just too much to absorb sometimes

i recall what i heard listening to Bob, Scout’s gentle father
sharing his childhood memories, working his own daddy’s fields
at 12, hitching horses to a wagon to glean the left over corn
and milking the cows everyday at 4, so his family could survive

i recall what I heard Sue, married 50 years to her beloved Bob
say on the phone last year driving home from the lawyers…
smiling, ‘Well the papers are all signed, it’s finally complete.
We called you first, ’cause we know how much you love the farm’

that none of the many siblings showed any interest
that Scout, her brother and I, were gifted this farm we treasure
that this poor Brooklyn boy, might breathe his last breath here
that it’s all…just really too much to absorb some days
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and i recall what I heard last night, when I walked the clearing
a bird I didn’t recognize was singing his melodic night calling
i just had to stop this walking, to listen to his every pretty note
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and I thanked the universe
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from my very core..
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that I was there
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108
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