I drive gravel roads to lift this darkness
a clenched fist around the day, crowding
heart, ribs, squeezing air from laboring lungs

count Rose of Sharon beginning to bloom
beside old houses gone to grayed shacks, boards
sliding into jackstraw piles, gaping windows
showcasing sagging beams. Orange daylilies
line ghostly drives holding footsteps that glow at night

turning north off the John Brown I find the rusting
washtub where I can leave this thing that rolls around
inside of me to rot with last year’s hedge apples

I reach out to rock the child’s swing hanging from the dead
tree and hempen rope shatters, leaving fine curls
around my fingers, laughter’s echoes in my ears
I wait for weathered wattle to crack and slip from
between rough hewn logs, for the roof’s collapse

to finally take the last of the beams to earth
where was the spring and how far did you have to drag
trees before splitting them by hand, raising the roof

beam, dragging in the bedframe, building the dry sink
when you left you must’ve taken the pot-bellied stove
sent the children past the rope swing promising another
set your eyes on Utah or California and measured days
in the rocking wagon by campfires, green hills, mountains

this knowledge writes itself on my hand as I brace against
the listing doorframe, hear old songs on the prairie wind
my palm somehow grown damp with your sweat.