Road to Middle

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On our way to “Middle” –
near the border of Vermont,

where Mother – is buried. . .

The County Fair is over,
land empty – bare; I would
beg for cotton candy – there’s

a one-room schoolhouse in
need of fixing – missing
wood, windows broken,

bruised brick.  You
can hear echoes of children
playing in the distance. . .

Down the road across
a creek, beyond sliced
slabs of slate a vintage

bar still lives, patrons still
sit on the same broken
down porch.

We pass the bar, take a
sharp right, twisting like
a slippery creek – a gentle

rain slips down slate – a hard
rain – a creek grows, a
road is closed.

We pass tiny huts with
many children – half clothed –
playing near a rusted car –
tires – gone. . .

Clothes of brown hang
from trees.
Mother, she would call them
guilders living in guilder
hollow.

A sharp right – I remember –
as if, it were today. . .
felt fear deep inside while mother
talked about bad men living
inside massive gates, huge
towers; men who held guns.
A giant building – tiny windows
letting in little sun. . .

As we drove closer a building
felt as if it would swallow me,
my feet now kicking the back
of Mother’s seat.

Back then I learned never,
never, would I be bad, held
behind barb wired fences – as
I pressed my nose against
a car window, a tear came,
rolled down my cheek; no
I will never, never be bad.

So good bye to you a massive
prison, filled with bad men,
those who murdered kept
inside;  men stand still in 
towers holding guns.
Finally on each side of the road
yellow houses where guards
sleep – many empty – a visitors
parking lot – filled.

Still we twist and turn as
a creek follows us – to our left –
houses hidden behind
maple trees – holding buckets
their spine aches – giant barns –
fewer cows roam. We would
count cows when I was young,
a game Mother taught us. . .

Another sharp left – up a
Hill – Saint Mary’s Catholic
Church.  At five – I marched
down the aisle as a miniature
bride as my parent’s did
so long ago.

Mother said, “keep those
white patent leathers clean,
and lift your dress – there is
mud around these parts.”

I smiled as I walked down 
the aisle on red carpet – how
different today will be.

Mother is asleep inside a
bronze coffin – she will be
pushed down this asile for
the last time. . .

Nothing changes in
“Middle” – she was one
of seventeen children,
Mother – the first girl to die,
today only one survives.

We cross the river with
no name – pass my
Mothers best friend’s
home across from the
green grocery store
– close to the rivers edge.

We pass my Aunt Joesphine’s
house next door to my
Uncle PJ’s Bar – I remember
playing on his bar stools, and
my cousins peeking from the
upstairs steps.  He had many
stuffed heads of bear, deer,
and animals I had never seen.

My Aunt’s house, it was built
before the Civil War – where trees
have grown around head
stones, as if spirits could
climb trees – spirits watched
at night when I gazed from
her second floor window.

Down the road a bit
to the left, my Mother’s
home it once sat
there,  high on a hill –
a giant porch
– a stair way – we
climbed and slid down,
when no one
was around. 

A hill where I once
played – tumbled,
and rolled in grass, picked
wild flowers;  in winter
pushed on a sled. 

Behind Mother’s home
where she learned to
milk a cow – played
baseball with ten brothers
–   near the mountains of
Vermont – a short walk
from her final resting place –

Now left, on a dirt
road – approaching a
black gate – locked – we
step around tree trunks –
climbed a slight hill –
we pass Grandmother’s
stone – Grandfather’s –
where my older brother
sleeps at the foot of his
grave.

I make the sign of the cross.
I read – to myself – all those
members of my family
resting near Vermont.

A stone path seems short as
land fills up with those who
lay beneath this ground –
stretching beyond my view
of the mountain.

I see a heart shaped stone
and read the Irish Prayer –
my Father’s name,
who is not there.

I stare – I turn – away –
talk in soft sounds
alone – on a stone path. . .
no one hears, I never stay
to pray at Mother’s grave – but
talk to her as my feet
carry me from stone to
stone, so many live beneath
this ground.

I gaze up at the mountain,
smile – I know she is
here – today – with me
nevertheless, Mother still
travels in
her spirit world –
Mother still sees me,
warns me of a rising creek –
listens when I speak.

We have our place where
I sit alone to talk – she
proved she listens –
promised me, as you
can tell we were not
afraid to talk of dying.

I knew it was not the end;
she never sleeps in Middle.

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