It was a hot day in early September, a day when the air stood heavy around the wide railed porch where Oliver Birch sat in his usual spot, a white spindle backed rocking chair with Irena, his wife of 51 years, beside him. It was the same every evening for the pair.

After fixing a simple dinner of crisp potatoes fried in the cast iron skillet and brown beans cooked soft on the stovetop all day and a fresh tomato from the garden patch and serving a humble meal on chipped gray plates, they came here on the porch to…


ID 124838406 © Oleksii Kriachko | Dreamstime.com

I’m told if your child listens to classical music
he will know beauty as he grows

and his mind will drift to heaven.
This is what I want for you, my son.

When you gaze into the sky one autumn evening
and see the starlings climb above the horizon

their collective stipple on the setting sun
expanding and contracting like the bellows

of an accordion, the music will stir your soul.
When you walk beside the ocean and feel the ebb

and flow of the swells, the waves pulsing to the shore
you will feel the pull of the violin bow…


ID 161107889 © Alexander Ozerov | Dreamstime.com


ID 127423824 © Rusty Elliott | Dreamstime.com
A man behind the counter hides
behind a leafy newspaper
oblivious to our disposable world.

Wandering across waxy wood
floors the scent of old days
and dust permeates our souls.

On the back wall stand three
cuckoo clocks, dark and lean
with only the past to mark,

mechanisms broken and hands
stuck at once upon a time.
Nearby a dropleaf table

is glazed with milk glass resting
on linen edged with lavender
needlepoint stitched by a young woman

now old and faded. A corner shelf
is covered with pink glass etched
with depression and the Rose of Sharon

now empty of light that once streamed
into a dining room and set it…

The paper blossoms with their amber eyes
have withered; their bodies collapsed on their hills;
their earthen wombs swollen and expectant
planted by those with wisdom to sow.

We wait until the sun leans westward
then pull the brown vines from their hills
shaking the small tubers from the roots;
the larger ones cling to the breasts of earth.

Grandfather brings out the diesel
then hooks up the plow with its steel fingers.
The frightful engine grinds
as it settles into gear lurching forward.

The worn tractor lumbers, plunging into the earth
while the kids follow behind feet buried
to the ankles…

Melissa Carpenter

A bibliophile, writer of poety and prose.

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