Poem: Where have they gone?

Posted: May 14, 2015 in Uncategorized

The hills have no echoes.
The dirt does not float upward; there’s no wind,
from clouds or treading feet.
No traffic crunches gravel to the cemetery.
People have forgotten.

I climb a weathered ladder to the
barn loft and glimpse one lone bale of hay
Beneath a far open window and it draws me
to climb and look upon a world that remains.

My eyes scan the pasture and the grass is dead.
My eyes scan for a swamp that is overgrown,
with it’s fast moving waters of a branch.
I see a distant black top, two-lane road.
Nothing moves as time stands still.

Where have they gone?

My closed eyes return images to correct spaces.
We are four, my brothers, and cousin. Cows
In the pasture drift and eat grass. The four of
Us sight a black, shiny bull of great size and we scurry
Beneath a barbed wire fence and safety.

My cousin lags behind with courage. A bull
arrived this day for mating with cows.
He is uneasy in different surroundings.
Hoofs rise and fall penetrating dirt
beneath his weight and perfection of shiny black.

I call my cousin to safety, yet she doesn’t listen.
I watch her remove a red bandana from her head
and hear mocks and jeers to the bull.
“I am a bullfighter,” she calls. “I can do this.”
The three of us yell in unison, yet she’s on a mission.

“Watch me run ’em off,” she says. She calls us
Scaredy cats. We aren’t scared of cows or bulls,
But this bull is enormous, strong, and full of rage at
being disturbed in his tranquil world.
We watch, lying on the grass beneath barbed wire.

Our cousin,the matador,is undeterred.
She taunts the bull and waves her kerchief.
We scream that red enflames a bull to attack.
We urge her to flee and she might make it.

She heeds no mind and the bull rushes forward. Bravery is gone.
Her eyes grow large and she tosses the kerchief while the bull treads it
into the dirt and cow manure. He’s disturbed and in pursuit.

I notice Grandpa standing at a corner of the pasture–amused.
He pulls on the straps of his overalls and leans against the fence.
“You’ll get the switch tonight,” he says as our cousin is in flight.
She barely makes it to the fence. Her laced brogans, untied,
She is stuck beneath the fence, half near to safety. Her boots scrape dirt.

The three of us pull her arms and it takes all of us, and the bull sniffs
the grass. He raises hoofs, as if to say: He is kind today and we are bad children.
I think he’s right. My cousin never tried to out run a bull after that.
We stayed at the top of the window and looked out upon the vastness and the
purity of the pasture, waiting for sunset. It has been a good day.

We are safe and together with our mischievous last deeds
of forking hay on top of cows’ horns and waiting for sunset,
with lanky arms dangling over the window.
Where have they gone: livestock, chickens, pigs, hogs, and mules
named Joe and Suzy.

Where’s my grand parents, my brothers, my father, and cousin?
And the frogs that croak in the pond near dark.
It is milking, feeding, and gating time.

I am here, alone with lanky arms hanging over a weathered, barn window.
I await the sunset and hear silence intermeshed with laughter.
Alone reverberates louder than silence and scents
of fresh hay in an old barn
Memories and ghosts of the past accompany me.

Tears trickle warm along my face and I know this is not a dream.
It’s reality of birth, flanked by life and death––where nothing remains.
It will be this way until weathered boards are rotted and claimed by the earth.
Fare thee well youth, existence, parents, grandparents, and sunsets that seal fates.
Winds will dissect this barn–one board at a time–amid silence.

––The living are gone, and we are dust born with a mutual destination.

  1. […] poem that ties all of those together–the pain, loneliness and memories–titled Where Have They Gone?  Wyn reminisces about time on the farm with her brothers and a cousin, and about the time her […]


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