In such places they tell stories about the first settled family:
the man who went to the dripping creek and made love to it
with his hands until it became a river, his wife
who kept furrows in bloom those early winters by walking
the rows with her lantern and breathing on the stems
to keep them warm. Post and lintel arose as if
from nothing, headstones climbed out of the earth and collected
in small, family plots where the dead laid claim to the loam.
Ancestral mile markers: he fell off the ladder
and it took a week for him to go; in her bed
she coughed out all her blood; his lover’s husband shot him
when their sin was discovered. Dirty roads
traced from other early homes creep over the hills.
Schoolhouses are built for the inevitable children. Blacksmiths daily cast
the smallest objects of need in life: nails over and over
seeking the perfection that would end their necessity.
Children arrange themselves for school,
girls sing throughout choir and shadows follow their causes
repeatedly like a kind of sadness.
Who knows what goes on inside of houses, behind their doors.
Secrets kept, broken, a frightened child who avoids the upstairs hallway
for days, until finally he peeks into the haunted suit of armor
and finds only cobwebs. If we hide
under our beds for long enough our chores
will forget about us. The water we pull from the well will go on forever.