—Caroline Nadelhoffer Orman, 9/7/07 (Farm neighbor)
From a distance all seems as I remember:
the rambling, low, white house with crisp green trim,
friendly porch and kitchen stoop and hitch.
The lumpy country lawn is mown
around ghettos of weeds and spindly flowers,
phlox and lilies that once knew hoe and trowel
and graced the farm wives’ Coffee Klatsch table
or the noontime feast of a threshing crew.
Dressed in rippled leaves and glittering specks of sky,
great oaks stretch out their sheltering arms in shade,
like sturdy old uncles so aged they’ve lost track of the years
since they and the house started out in what then was called “The West.”
The giant barn is weatherworn; its honest silhouette is clad in red,
still with traces of ‘the purple mistake;’ some boards deep-ridged and gone to gray.
Dusty with recall, the still air holds the sounds and smells of horse and cow,
of cats pursuing mice in bins of grain, of owls and sparrows flying through rafters,
skimming mows drifted high with hay, its dry, sweet aroma mingling
with pungent whiffs of manure and sweat and steam.
This house that knew how to add onto itself as its family grew in size
is blinded now by windows covered to hide the vacant rooms from prying eyes
like mine, grateful for a vagrant sunbeam that helps me see the delicate pale green
of wallpaper on walls without pictures, the kitchen with no stove or singing kettle,
nor table sagging under fresh-picked tomatoes—
The curtain at one window is just a bit awry,
as if somewhere in the shadows
for the folks who said they were coming back—
(The Greene Farmstead still stands at the corner of Greene and Hobson Roads in DuPage County, llinois.)