A World Without Locks
The barn contrasts red against the snow.
A hand-painted sign is painted next to the door:
Cheddar Cheese. Milk.
Walk inside and there is an old refrigerator and a box.
Take your cheese. Pay your money.
No one is watching.
A decade and more the barn has stood.
Cheddar Cheese. Mild. Trust.
And no locks.
Somehow, it works. The doors remain open.
Down the road, the church stands.
A white clapboard building that has survived
time, fires and the constant change of denominations.
On the altar are a brass cross and two scarred plates.
Sunlight filters through the stained glass windows,
red and blue, unbroken and beautiful.
You can walk down the street and pray.
Or, just come inside and get warm on a frigid day.
The doors are never locked, All are welcome.
Somehow it works. The doors remain open.
A neighbor calls. There is a need.
Without hesitation you promise them a trip to the store
before the next storm.
There are groceries to buy. Bags of them
for this old couple whose life is back and forth to hospitals.
Don’t worry if we are not there. The door is never locked
Somehow it works.
It is a strange place you live in.
There is no shortage of pain and tragedy.
Poverty blankets the valley like snow.
And yet, somehow, doors remain open.
Do not ask me how.
Do not ask me why.
All I know is that they let me in,
a stranger from the South,
and I was made warm in this place without locks.
Somehow it works.
About this poem.
I like where I live.
The picture is from a farm not far from my house. There are farms like it all around, selling fresh milk, meat, eggs, cheese, all on the honor system. Half my neighbors never lock their doors. And the little church down the road is always open. It’s a wonderfully strange place to live. Not perfect, but wonderful.