The Barn

The walk across the large lawn
took me through a surround of corn
hundreds of acres that nestled
remnants of an old barn, memories
in it packed like hay and nutmeat.
She said it was one hundred years
old and the rough hewn pine logs
that supported the hayloft floor where
we used to play and the
buttresses and struts that lifted the
roof said as much. So the roof
itself which was one half tin, one half
shake, and the two roofless silos,
the squared wormy timbers, the
ladders that take you aloft that are
handworn smooth and shaped like
breezes and feel like worn smooth
chocolate; and the old rusty stanchions
that held the holsteins and the inside horse
pens that her father used to farm with
unto our memories. I remember Uncle
Henry in the middle of chores, on a milk
stool smoking the cigarettes that would
kill him say to his son: Tommy go get
those other milk cans, and his son
another tall one dead of Viet Nam ever
obedient did his father's wishes.
She said, when we moved back I
was afraid of ghosts. But I have no
bad memories from here, no cross
words; my father moved through
our lives like a gentle wind.
I step over a gutter and pile of one
by tens with grain and weathering
like that wind, look out the paneless
windows into the wide open
Hay River valley. The breeze mutters
through the walls, the hay doors
creak open, the ladder squeaked and
cracked as I had climbed into the loft.
A barn swallow rushes out
pigeons flap away. These are no
ghosts. The place talks.

Steven Fortney

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