09 July 2017

Dreams of a Summer House (2d Place, Terry Plunkett Poetry Festival, University of Maine at Augusta, 2012)

Behind the barn sits a small house, screened
floor to ceiling three sides to catch a breeze;
solid, with a door, on the other. Aged chairs
furnish this retreat from Summer's heat: a place

to read pulp fiction, smoke, sip Irish whiskey―
without prying eyes. Then it was real, now
I return only in dreams―the night takes
me back to that different life, another

reality. Seated in an old chair,
wicker with soft cushions, looking across
my grandmother's flower garden, past
grandfather's vegetable plot, book closed

on my lap, I see the familiar trees—
the pear that held me then and still, the big
beech, chestnuts edge the street. I'm waiting
for my father to come looking for me,

as he always does: to sit, to talk, to
reveal secrets from our past. After crossing
the sea, he crosses the street, walking past
the chestnuts, across the lawn, under the beech,

past the pear—knowing it was she that bound
me to it as him to her—to the Summer
house, and takes the other chair. He can talk
now, as he couldn't talk then, of love, feelings,

failures, the past. He's free now, free of chains.
After loading his pipe and firing with a match,
he begins our story, head wreathed in smoke,
always picking up just where he left off,

weaving another strand of common thread into
our fabric. A recurring dream, encounter,
vision, in my night; awake, it haunts my day:
no memories of his words remain, even

though I hear him tell our story, see the flowers,
the gardens, the trees, particularly the pear,
the lawn. Last night it all came back again:
I was there, sitting with him, a quiet evening

in my Summer house, listening, always
listening, and remembering not a word.

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