I remember heated autumns
shucking corn by hand with Grandpa
in the loamy bottomland where sometimes
tall stalks stabbed your cheeks to fever.
To shake the boiling backdraft
from the sweaty wagon team
we would cut the darkest melon
sown in early summer's wisdom.
The taste of melting plash
would curl my lips alive
like icy draughts from shaded
springs after making hay.
But I remember most
the airy symphony
of Grandpa's silken whistle.
It began at sunup every day
and carried through the chicken yard
across his choring in the barn
all the way to the kitchen
where I still groped for shoes.
It bubbled up the valley like a sleeve
and thinned the lifting mist
and rinsed the dew away
and warmed the squirrel's wink awake.
The song was strong and never frayed
like a goldfinch flash
against a dusky hollow. Though I
could never place the melody,
the guileless notes together chimed,
pealed beneath the skin of time
and softly ring sometimes still
late September Saturdays when I
arise alone and thirst for home.
*Published in Poet Magazine (Spring 1995).