A Boy’s Barn

It once stood
within sight of the foothills
to the Blue Ridge Mountains
and it comes back to me in dreams.

Corn cob fights
over bales of straw and lespedeza,
with sunlight filtered through weathered slats
that barely held to hand-cut cross beams.

Pal and I galloping
through the front pasture gate,
full stride for the big barn door,
and just as we enter
I grab the bottom sill
to the loft above
and swing free of his saddle,
hanging there five feet from the ground
as he pulls up
and turns in the red clay dust
to face his lost, smiling rider.

Late afternoon batting practice
against the shaded side,
where my father taught me
to switch hit and drag bunt
while we talked of Maris and Mantle
and how to play center field
for the Coca Cola team in Anderson County.

And I can still see
the Arabian filly stealing oats
from my burro’s bucket
by the feed room door,
while I moved in behind
with a black crop in hand
to whack her on the rear,
but she kicked her hind leg
into the center of my chest—
and everything went dark
until I came to
halfway between the house and barn
in my mother’s arms.

That old barn came down
for scrap wood some years ago,
and all that’s left
are live oak, magnolia,
and elm trees
to shade bright memories
of thunder showers on a tin roof,
dogs in the field,
or scuppernongs from the vine…
and Connor on horseback,
dear Addie by the azaleas,
and Vee.

DMT (circa 1980)


Cross Country – Poems of an Expatriate Southerner is available on Amazon