poetry · Recent

Peeling Paint

Your father built the trailer house
And took you to live in it.
Your heart stayed trapped
beneath the caved in roof.

Peeling paint and
rotten wood, splintered
around window frames
glass missing or fragmented,
sharp edges cut misplaced fingers
and pieces crunch under
boots that find their way
through debris and juniper thickets.

The roof, caved in
around the back, shingles
and beams rotted through,
dried out from exposure to the western sun’s
persistent shine.

Chickens scratch the dirt nearby,
their coop sturdy, made from lumber
only slightly worn–faded and splintering
in places but  with a roof intact.

A few yards farther on, a trailer house
peeling paint and floral curtains
in the living room windows.
Will they repaint, and repair the roof
when it leaks?
Or will they move out and build another home,
leaving the floral curtains to molder and decay,
The roof to collapse, adding another building to dot
what still seems
like endless frontier.

Isolation
every silent mile crunching on dirt
and gravel reveals a cluster of buildings
nestled in sagebrush and fireweed
and the yellow of wild sunflowers.
Every mile finds hollow-eyed derelict buildings
near lived-in homes.
The lie of land
abundant, big skies curving over endless miles
vast expanse whispers
“you’re the only one” and makes you
believe it’s God’s country
until the skid of tire on gravel and growl
of diesel engine kicks dust in your eyes.

Your grandmother birthed your mother there
and she took her first steps right where that tree
is growing through the busted window frame that was left
For the earth to reclaim.

Don’t tear it down. Don’t tear down memories,
history–
your life is in cracks and crevices of rotting wood,
sharing space with beetles and ants.
Your life doesn’t live in your bones.
You can’t carry it with you, so
leave it standing to remind you
each day, of your
mother when she scrubbed
clean the peeling vinyl floor
bleached the cracked kitchen counters
and chipped porcelain of the toilet bowl,
acting like cleanliness
can stop decay
right up until the roof
went spongy and she left.

 

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