The Red Gate

That last time I was to the farm
where running through creeks, chasing
small birds and my imagination,
I had grown up
there was a red gate my Grandfather had built

Much of the paint had blistered and peeled
as its weight had pulled the corner post
forward toward the earth that it also
had leaned for, still functional but barely so

Fashioned with boards and bolts that
had gone through hand augured holes by
brace and bit—I still remember
that tools’ shininess from years of use

The gate separated the farm from
an adjacent well-to do horse ranch
where fine Arabians pawed at the
sawdust in tight functional stalls

North of the gate had been our barn
that burned several winters before the funeral
all the animals had gotten out & though
the gate was only five feet away it stood,
a bit charred still, & latched to the fence

It had swung open mostly for bartered loads
of hay and occasionally for myself, to get closer
to a fox or deer in the next field and sometimes
to deliver Christmas cakes to affluent neighbors

The farm changed hands to distant relations
by marriage; who after the funeral came offering
condolences and money — I stood there looking
at its form as the content of memories, of ghosts,
of the distance of wealth, of long ago laughter
of a presence of sorrow the screeched
like a rusty hinge

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