Nothing Between You and Sky
An old stone house in Harper’s Ferry.
The doors. The windows. The roof has long ago collapsed.
Vines climb the walls.
You look up and there is nothing between you and the sky.
It has been a long time since you have felt so free.
When the pretense and deliberate calm could be released
and you could be nothing more and less than you are.
Your son, your fellow escapee, hugs you
and begins exploring.
You breathe in the air. It smells of June flowers
and new grapevines. Below you is the river,
muddy and deep brown, silt from last night’s rain
coloring the water as it flows to the ocean.
You breathe in the air. No one else would understand
that this place of stone and sky is perfect,
less a ruin than a launching place,
where not even the sky is the limit.
About this poem
A history poem. My personal history.
A few years ago my son needed to leave his home and mother in Virginia. It was something of a great escape adventure, a story he and I have both told many times. I picked him and all his belongings up and we began the drive to Virginia.
We stopped in Harper’s Ferry for a day. to decompress from the tension and to turn the leaving into an adventure rather than a sad thing. While exploring the town, we came on this small stone house, where everything had long ago fallen in. It was strangely evocative.
I realized only later what a metaphor it was for the changes in both of our lives. He was free, finally, to be himself, and strangely, so was I. I no longer had to worry about making things harder for him just by being. He was the second child I had brought to Vermont and at last, I no longer had to worry about something I would say or write inadvertently having consequences for either of them.
I tell people all the time, everything is possible. And this was one of the moments when I felt it.
Freedom. It’s a beautiful thing.