Evening shadows shift
Through broken windows.
Chimney bricks slide down the roof
Puddleing under the lilac bush.
Weeds spread into the driveway
Reclaiming it for themselves.
When was this house built?
Was it ever new?
The yard and doorframes bear witness
To the families who grew here.
Long forgotten toys and broken swings
Hide beneath the matted field grass.
A broken clothesline flaps in the gray autumn breeze and
Sprung clothespins mold and rot into the ground beneath the broken posts.
Feral cats are now the only life that calls this old farm home,
And birdsong still fills the rafters of the barn.
The barn that once held livestock
Sits shifted on its foundation,
Listing and leaning to the south,
Away from winter’s fierce winds.
The stately oak gracing the front yard is rotten and broken,
Its fingers through the house roof.
Where did they go, the people
Who called this place home?
When the last one left,
Why didn’t they clean out the house?
Why not take the toys?
Close the windows? Lock the doors?
Did they not know they were
Never coming back?
The windmill out back has long ago
Crashed into the apple orchard,
Breaking in to pieces as it fell
and crushing the trees it had stood watch over all these years.
But in man’s absence
The apple trees continue to produce.
The lilac bushes flower every spring in spite of
Not being “cared for” in over 40 years.
The forest is slowing creeping back in to fill the void
Left when the field was abandoned.
All that remains of the people who once called this spot of land home
Is the family graveyard,
Where stones are carved with love and care,
Preserving for all time the names and dates of those whose lives began and ended here.
But the lilacs don’t care about being preserved,
The Oak is beyond pride and the buildings are slowly returning to the soil,
Just like the bodies beneath the stones.
Another 40 years and the stones will be all that remains.
They will be all that is left to tell the story
Of a time gone by.
The story of a house built to last a lifetime, a barn crafted with pride,
The story of generations of a family who lived, worked and died on this land.
A story only the stones will remember.