A memory of a friend's grief in a remote place

from https://www.northcountrypublicradio.org/news/story/34862/20171013/remembering-john-scarlett-blacksmith-oxen-teamster-and-poet

A Ruined Place

The granary, our small house
rebuilt like its owners from the inside out
slowly to console and educate the spirit
and to endure at least one lifetime
stood surrounded by swaying saplings
great-grandchildren of the graybeard boards
of the granary: elms, maples, locusts
and one unpromising bitternut.
We watched them grow.
What clocks could measure time as well?
They recorded no arbitrary notion of man's.
Time to them was coarse as new bark
bursting its seams or the layered growth
of the paper wasps' pendulous gray cardboard houses
or their wind-shattered limbs and the flaking death
of disease that made a feast for woodpeckers.
From out the windows of this small crate of a house
once granary barn, tack room, calf pen, ice house,
milk cellar, cobbler shop, more—
if you stood on the couch and looked out
as our two young sons loved to do
these young trees were proof of changes
for the better, the promise of shade,
timber, firewood and sweet sap.
Even the trees died that morning in December
when the house burned and young Christopher hid
in his brother's bed where the smoke found him anyway
as his father stood in the doorway and screamed
across a chasm of time and flame.
And the world seemed to weep forever.
We had counted on those trees
and pondered the future of a child's joy.
Now both are gone and what is the difference?
The charred trees and black foundation
like a broken clock serve only memory.
Trees and child made neither boards nor poems
offspring nor embodied dreams, at least in terms
flesh and understanding are used to.
John Scarlett, 1977


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