There, beyond the corn crib,
in the empty space by the small pig-birthing sheds,
the barn used to stand.
As a child, it seemed immortal,
a dusty heaven of space and light,
the air filled with dust dancers
from the bales of hay stacked high in it’s attic.
Sunlight cut through it’s darkness,
through windows, through doors,
through gaps in the ancient clapboard,
mystic promises in the otherwise dimness.
It was a place designed, not by architects,
but practical men, simple men.
Strong walls to battle the wind.
Sharp sloped roofs to let the worst snows
fall silently to the ground.
Not quite tight, air flowed gently
to prevent rot in the hay, the corn cribs,
the bins full of sweet potatoes from last years crop.
This is where you played.
Where you fled when it became too much.
This is where you worshiped early in the morning.
Immortal, until with one fiery conflagration,
one strike of blind lightening,
it was gone, ashes, and then with the first rain,
not even that, merely an empty spot where the barn used to be.
Not all things survive the storms.
This is the truth.
Some are swept away and become memories,
if even that.
So savor your sacred, your loves, your children,
Remember them, make them precious in the now,
in each glorious moment of the mundane.
Let them cling to your soul,
and then, when they are suddenly gone,
they will remain
About this poem
My uncle, my mom’s brother died last week. He was a good man, loved by his family, the last of my mom’s siblings.
The picture comes from the other side of the family. It was my grandfather’s farm in Surry County, Virginia. And yes, there in the back, a barn once stood, now gone, burned years ago, in a fire.
From those two things, this poem.