Vacancy

The mailbox hangs rusting on the ironwood post

cut with a bow saw and tamped into a hole dug by hand

at the side of the gravel road.

The name is almost legible, rust on rust and the flag is up

as if the box still held important letters to mail.

Close by the road stands the store building, its porch floor thin and fragile

from too many years and too many feet passing over its planks.

There are grooves in the boards from the rockers that once were there,

and a brown-stained ring recalls a spittoon and men in overalls

with bags of Mail Pouch tucked into bibs.

Windows with vacant eyes and faded stickers look out at the road

where wagons once passed, making their way along the turnpike

to the tollgate just ahead.

To the left and set back from the road is a house

that surely must have been the storekeeper’s home.

Its wire fence is recalled only by metal fragments hanging on posts,

and a gate, open to daffodils lining a rutted path.

A small barn with a hitching post and an upside-down horseshoe

is empty, no horses or hay or stacks of feed within. Cobwebs

blow in the rafters; there is a smell of mice and old dung.

I pull off the road, get out of my car and listen. There is nothing

but the music of a small stream beside the barn, the whisper of wind

through the barn’s loft, and birds singing territorial carols.

I strain my ears for faint traces of voices and my eyes

sweep from house to barn to daffodils,  seeking the story

of who lived here, and why they left.

The place keeps its secrets from me,

and I slowly drive away, looking

in my rearview mirror as if it held the magic

to see an invisible past.

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About grannysu

storyteller, writer, poet, gardener, countrywoman
This entry was posted in Appalachian, NaPoWriMo and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Vacancy

  1. Staci says:

    Simply beautiful. It reached into the hollows of my heart and discovered the places I yearn.

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