The house was on the corner

The house was on the corner
At the edge of town,
Chinese elms in
Front yard & until I was seven
A large sycamore tree spread
Over the corner & diminished
The buzz of the grain elevators
Across the street but one day
The city came & cut  it down
When my father was
Out of town, & all
Even though it was my
Grandmother’s tree,
She played under as a child,
As was I, that morning
& I remember her weeping
& wringing her apron
As it fell to the ground

The two story home was built around 1900
West porch was slat board  &
Screened in & had a little furniture, the front door
Was screened & then you came on the porch & to a wooden door
With thumb button latch, & opaque glass
Gave way at waist height, walking through the
Door was a round oak dining room table of some size
A deer head mounted on the wall was from an era
Of  lesser taxidermy skill & was even a little ragged, as a child
But it was  the only deer I’d ever seen
& my grandmother every Christmas
Put a red nose on it

There was a china cabinet about chest height w/ a narrow mirror
It was made of a dark stained wood & in the bottom my grandmother
Kept my father’s war medals, a Silver Star & Purple Heart
The ends of the cabinet that recessed the mirror had posts &  one had a false front
That held papers unbeknownst to the casual eye
& a railroad watch, gold & jeweled and inscribed to my great grandfather

Beyond this room was the kitchen & bathroom w/claw foot tub
Beyond that another screened in back porch that also enclosed a trap door
To a cellar, for can goods, & tornado warnings every spring & summer

& a dark cloud rumbled & that certain prickly kind of feeling hung in the air
At night in May, 1955, & it all came up sudden & the storm sirens went off &
& wind hit our house hard like a ship hits a rock & I remember
Our dog being chained in the back yard by the minnow tank & from street lights I could see him
Being stretched out on his chain by the wind, & I’m grabbing for the door
To get him, as my father shoved me down
Cellar stairs, & the neighbors in the little red house didn’t come over like
They usually did & the wind stretched the house frame in an eerie creaking way
Then it all calmed down, & we found out the tornado struck ground
In Udall sixteen miles north & east of us, minutes later
& killed 87 people, &
the south half of that town was leveled,
& 200 were injured,
& my dog was alright & my grandmother stopped weeping for the sycamore tree

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