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Home Leaves
contributed by
A Friend

Open Space

Home Leaves

We caught so many fish, dove off the dam a thousand times.
Built more rafts than the Spanish Armada,
Only one ever floated.

Swam in the lake all day, dove for mussels & clams,
Painted the house umpteen-gazillion times,
Chopped more firewood than Abe Lincoln,
Hotdogs, fries, and fried cohog clams – till we were sick.

Warmed tanned toes & feet by the wood stove at night –
The only source of heat other than each other …

Frozen to death in the early morning of the out-house,
Eaten alive every evening by the huge lake mosquitoes,
Screamed on every ride in every fair & carnival in the state …
5 kids, dozens of cousins, all our friends …
Endless scenic rides in the Wagon …

Mom calling from the cottage window across the lawn,
be careful now …
Aunts, uncles, cousins everywhere, horseshoe Olympics.
Nana and Grampa – quiet even then, now gone forever, but still smiling.
My image of America … too bad it couldn’t last.

Now, the lake has swallowed up the tiny beach we had,
as if our not going anymore
caused it to give up hope and slide sadly
beneath the silent wavelets …

Gone too, the echoes of the children’s happy squeals,
stolen by the lonely wind for company on its whispery way through tall, muted
pines …

Graffiti covers the once pure gray concrete walls of the dam,
The water doesn’t seem as clean, rushes with less joy.

The old house, slumped with age and broken by abandonment,
Only the ever-mysterious barn stands strong on its beams –
The chicken coop is dust.

Rooms assault with sweet, silly, stupid memories,
each one crying to be saved, monopoly games and fights …
Three to a bed, don’t knock over the pisspot in the dark …
All irretrievably lost.

Sound of 78 records scratchily playing forgotten tunes on the Victrola.
Dank dampness and rot of the death of youth,
Everywhere relics of the time we did this or the time we all sat there.

On the porch listening to the warm, soft, gray morning rain,
Waiting for the sun, waiting for Dad to finish cooking breakfast.
Pail full of freshly unearthed worms, rods ready,
hooks already embedded in fingers full of anticipation.
Hurry Dad, let’s go!
Before it gets too hot to fish, and we have to paint again.
Smell of hot coffee and fresh bacon streaming from the kitchen door,
pulling us back.

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