When We Get There
we pull up to the farm and I can feel my husband
grow sad and tense in the seat next to me. The road turns into
a small gravel path that quickly disappears into thickets
of sticky motherwort and wild indigo, gentian and even
a few errant stalks of purple.
We get out of the car at almost exactly the same moment, me
struggling with the purse strap stuck to my armrest, him
struggling with whatever unspoken grief still remains from the funeral.
I point out tiny blue butterflies and noisy yellow birds to my daughter
ask her if she knows what their names are
even though I know she doesn’t, she’s only five. My husband
is already walking out to the house where his brother’s car is already parked
where his brother is already standing outside the front door, smoking a cigarette.
Later, at the hotel, we argue about what we should do with the trash piled up
inside the house, the beautiful piano covered in soot, the antique china cabinets
that won’t open because of all the rust. My sister-in-law wants the piano, wants
to fight about it, even though I tell her the soundboard’s cracked
it’s not worth the haul. We fight about tractors frozen
still and silent in the barn, the milking machines with tubes choked with mold,
the piles of newspapers and dirty clothes blocking everything but the front door.
my daughter laughs when we tell her she can take anything she wants from the house
that no one would stop her from taking a memento
from where her great-grandparents lived
she laughs because there’s nothing there anyone would want.
Rust and Wood -- John Foster Savage