Monday, October 24, 2016

PASSED WITHOUT WORDS~







Family Fire



Almost hunting season
Last week of October
No one was around when the new house
Somehow turned to fire and after
A year building for this farm family
Fell into ashes in a half hour.
The first person to get
There before the fire department
Spoke of gas tanks blowing off,
Windows melting flames,
A big blue spruce close by shredded brown.
  

Now down in the dungeon of the cellar
Snow shovels and pitchforks sift through
Savings of four sons, a man and woman —
Blackened chain saw bar, lost book pages,
Bills and receipts, iron coat hooks, an axe head.
No clue to the favorite family photographs
Or pet parakeet, only the twisted
Hunk of his wire cage.


I can just imagine the fright
In the bird at first sense of fire —
A quarter mile away one of our dogs
Broke the clasp to his chain
Smelling five cords of firewood
Burn all at once.






The Walker



Everyone who has been around
The last twenty years, at least,
Has a different story to
Remember about the Henry boy
Who walked the roads.
He’s dead now.
One night after not seeing him
For a few years I came across
His tiny obituary in the newspaper
And if you hadn’t known him
The notice said nothing —
Only that he lived,
Had relatives in town,
And now he was dead —
No mention that he walked
Twenty-five miles sometimes in one day.
Started off at his parents’ farm and
Followed over the hill then
Tracked down into the village,
Poked through the covered bridge,
And turned on his heel to the left
Wandering down the river road —
Where two miles later he would
Pass me digging up stone for
One of the old walls around here.
Usually he was surprised when
I said hello, squinted over at
Me and raised his whole arm
In a salute, while still marching.
No one would have kept up with
His stride, and I watched him
Until he disappeared down the
Knoll — a harmless character in
Clothing that blended with the
Trees, road gravel, spring air.
Most of the people called him
Deaf, dumb or other things.


Old timers brushed his name aside
Whenever it came up, or else
Said something about “How it
Was a shame.” And now as the
Town changes and funny looking
Houses are built and taxes go up
Each year for easier living
I know I miss the Henry boy,
Who I simply called the walker,
Because that’s what he did
Everyday. And everyone either
Ignored him, or were used to what
They thought a pitiful sight
And no doubt he did struggle,
But this road isn’t the same
Without him — it’s gotten
Respectable almost — lost sight
Of one who walked these miles
For whatever his private reasons.
Nevertheless, he always saluted
His hello, passed without words.








Tom Newall



We haven’t a clue
What he is doing —
Moving in tangle of
Thistle and goldenrod,
Grass wet to his chest,
Sun storms the barn roof —
This is Tom Newall who is
90 years old and never married,
And he might be in a habit
Of walking his fence line
Tugging off brush and tassel
  

My friend drives by this farm,
Always tells me the same
Story no matter how many times
As if he can’t remember repeating
Why he is proud about knowing
Tom Newall — who boiled 400 gallons
Of maple syrup last year,
Triple that when he was younger —
And he never did marry, but how
Is it possible no one would fetch
This man of gentle poise and nitid
Eyes I can’t forget from meeting
Him just one time


Around the house lawn trim and
Kept, chickens roost on the front
Stair stoop as if, and now
It is, perfectly normal —
There is no reason to bother
Tom Newall or any other like this
Good man — if my friend had his
Way this farmer and land and
Summit would remain as it is —
That it won’t, has us look



________________


Bob Arnold
O N C E     I N     VE R M O N T
G n o m o n




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