Clear water drifts through swimmin’ holes
across flat rocks and over roots,
around un-cut cane fishing poles
where, at night, a barn owl hoots.
Pale moons still shine
above the meadow wonderland
where our heifer, Clementine, gave birth
to a calf too weak to stand.
By kerosene lantern’s yellow light,
Yvonne and I encouraged the calf to eat.
We braved the fear of dark midnight
to help him stand on his wobbly feet.
Moss grows now where the choppin’ block stood
under the shade of a black jack tree
where Daddy split the kindlin’ wood
and handed the pine-scented chips to me
to carry to the apple crate
behind the stove in our front room.
The paling fence, its fallin’-down gate
are memories now. Plum trees still bloom,
perfumin’ bud-fresh mountain air
around our house of weathered boards.
In the garden, Mama gathered with care
speckled bird egg beans and dipper gourds.
I would do again the things I’ve done–
feed white Leghorns from a brown tow sack,
walk barefoot in the April sun
but there’s no way that I can go back.
I’ll cling to memories like the skin on a peach
and trust that time will not erase
the sound of the baby barn owl’s screech
near the swimmin’ hole at my old home place.
c Copyright, 2012, Freeda Baker Nichols