Long before the sun cast along the corn silk
or the school bus crunched up the road,
through the barn shadows,
murmured to the cows,
and ankled through a swarm
of lean, milk-thirsty cats.
The barn was his for that dark sliver
before the caterwaul
of father and younger brothers:
just cows and cats and boy.
The fence gate clings
by cobwebs and a rust-flaked hinge,
and the barn is a hollow echo of dust
Here are sunny
hours all his own, family scattered
afield—leaves in their own corners now.
An old ache pulls
him back. And in the clean,
gold afternoon, he slows
through the smooth
of his bare heels.
That old tractor road curves
him along the hayfields,
through the green whorl
of warm tree house branches, and curls
him into its red-dirt cocoon,
leaving his shoes