You Can't/Can Go Home Again
October 6, 2017A poem that I wrote during our recent visit to Seattle:
Walking on our old block while the Blue Angels rehearse overhead
Seattle, August 2017
The last of our fruit is gone now,
The scruffy plucky plum
that grew in the grass strip
Offering red and yellow tastes:
One grafted, tamed;
the other wild from the roots.
Replaced by anorexic landscaping objects
That scarcely can be called trees.
There’s no trace of the house that homed us
For thirty-five years.
And before us the Teagues,
And before them, all the way back
To 1903 when Sears sent a kit
And someone assembled it,
Called it their own.
Not a splinter of a wall.
Not a crumb of foundation.
Not a tattered inch of roofing shingle.
And in the yard, no twig to signal
That once we called the fruit by name.
Granny’s gone. Sam, too.
And Desert King, Concord, Frost.
Vashon Ambrosial left the lot
Along with varieties we never named
Because their lineage was unknowable,
Stretching back so far that no one alive
Remembered who planted them.
The marginal pear.
The rescue plum.
The tenacious apple.
Even Indestructibles are gone:
Black bamboo that would not budge,
Kiwi that parted roof from gutter
to make its way inside the attic.
Flowers, too: purple nightshade,
King Alfreds that spread
From 6 to hundreds.
Even bindweed and morning glory.
Seven piles of brand new privilege
Where once we woke up, strolled, picked
Berries for breakfast, dug potatoes for dinner.
All identical, joining three next door
Where the little pink house used to overflow:
Four generations of Snowdens, two of McCanns.
Looming stacks with rooftop patios
Literally looking down on the old hood.
Across the street, Kate’s tiny brown house
replaced by scaffolding.
And overhead Blue Angels roar,
Explode through the sky all
Precision and noise,
Their exhaust mingling
With the smoke of two hundred fires
Drifting down from B.C.
On our new lot in Greenfield
We’ve planted hardier figs,
Bush cherries, goji, lingonberry,
The juice is reputed to be healing.