For many years
a neighbor's white frame house
stood silent beside a row
of shaggy evergreens,
till one day trucks came
to lift it from its footprint
on the hillside
and disappear down
the dusty road.
Last summer
storms tore roof
from the lonesome barn.

We've no reason left
to drive those graveled roads
past old neighbor's homesteads.
Our own memories
of summer sunsets,
winter barns full of hay & newborn calves,
and nights of windmill songs
were packed neatly into boxes
with photo albums
and moved reluctantly to town.

My childhood memories
of neighbors and friends
paint freshly white
that old farmhouse.
The kitchen once again
smells of chocolate sheetcake
with cocoa frosting,
varnished wood
warmed by a cook stove,
counters cleaned carefully
after a morning breakfast.

Two brothers,
two sisters
and baby brother to tag along.
Life all but burst
the rafter seams and
spilled laughter & tears
across the barnyard
in a dizzying
parade of childhood.

On my many visits,
I felt first thrill of a sled
speeding down a snowy hillside,
tasted purple fruit
falling from the shade
of a mulberry tree,
experienced many chores
of a working farm
where everyone pitched in
and everyone benefited
from harvest rewards,
I learned to share toys
and childhood secrets
and how to deal
with those first long nights
away from home.



On winter visits to our farm,
the girls wrote
and put on plays for the families.
Spring birthday parties
with cake & ice cream;
games played
of Red Rover, Simon Says,
softball & croquet
until we collapsed in lawn chairs
beneath a spectacular night sky
and watched the zodiac
march across the milky way
until the mosquitoes
drove us inside to dab our limbs
with pink calamine.

Our half acre of strawberries
ripened in the June sunshine,
family & neighbors
came to fill their buckets.
We cleaned and sugared fruit
to pour over mountains
of vanilla ice cream
and ate until our tummies ached
from excess.

By July the green corn
was hard to walk through,
combines threshed
golden wheat from the fields
and grain trucks filled streets
around the town elevator.
The folks took turns
taking us to town picnics
and we felt the thrill
of Ferris wheel
and the terror of scrambler.
We learned how to dance
on concrete floors while
bands played well past midnight.

As summer cooled into fall
the yellow bus came early.
Each stop brought us
closer to a new school year,
new adventures,
classmates we would grow up beside,
football games in the chill
of an autumn night,
dances in the warm gym after.

We laughed & reveled
in our simple pleasures,
happiness vivid as a memory;
distant as decades & miles between.
Poems are written
to kindle the flame of memories,
to warm the hearts of people,
and to find a way
to tell them just how much …
They are Loved.

copyright 1998 Jan Eloise Morris

Dedicated to Charles & Evelyn Jenkins and their children, Margory, Charlotte, Jack, Don and Bill, my childhood friends in Union Center. The Jenkins Family lived on the Charles Trump farm in the late 50's early 1960's. The house stood empty for many years and was recently moved from the land.

Photo: Robert Morris family home 1970's