January 09, 2005

The Untelling

There was a lot I didn't tell you about our trip "home" recently, to Rochester and Buffalo. It's taken me a while to digest the trip, the onslaught of memories. Onslaught, like slaughter. Mmm hmm.

I went back to visit our farm house on Atlantic Avenue, blue now. Who would paint the house blue and leave the barn red? Who would let the silo go that long without its top? Who would take down three acres of plank fence that my father and grandfather built, one rail at a time, handkerchiefs and muscle-man undershirts to soak up the sweat, always in the summer, the horses breaking out, time to fix another rail?

How did it come down? In pieces over time? Hired help to knock down the posts? If I looked hard enough, could I find a wedge of whitewashed post an acre or so back?

The fence, that was hard, the absence of, so much loss in the space where it stood. So many trips in tennis shoes with glasses of ice water for Dad and Grandpa, so comfortable sitting cross legged on the hill between the barn and the house watching their muscles work, a team, son and father-in-law.

How could they know as they hefted the rails that inside a year they would both be gone. One. Three weeks later the other. What kind of sense does it make to take them, and now the fence?

No one knows the preciousness
of things touched
before we come upon them.