Coming Unhinged [A Poem About Old Love]

Wood planks joining steps to porch marry, like ‘a kind of same-sexed couple’ at the front of an ancient farmhouse.

I’m an old barn door, hanging heavy and strong

on my hinges. I open, I close—

opening, closing, opening, closing—

my destiny in action framed in true solid oak,

coming to fruition,

plank on plank and latch.

Years pass. Weather fronts

blow in, blow out. The farmers huddle inside the house,

children looking out icy window panes

to see snow and icicles

festooning their barn eaves.

Horses billeted inside that barn

have settled in for a time being.

Winter weather wreathes around

all our countryside landscapes.

Ice crystals, each an unrepeatable sign,

are snow blown furious from higher atmospheres,

driven by keen winds whipping to search out

those bare and evergreen tree tops,

or find the rabbit burrows,

a snow fox den,

the hibernating cave-lets

wherein patient life bides a cold season,

a necessary watch kept.

The old barn door—

you know it’s me, right?—

keeps a steady, dutiful watch, too,

latched for the dear horses’ sake, upright

on hinges, not cozy in winter sleep.

My oak planks and iron fittings

may weather so long after those first, new bright sunny days,

passing one long season across many changing seasons.

My companions are that farm house,

the split-log fence that runs

along the winding road

from mail box to front steps,

those front steps long married to a handsome front porch,

all made of the same wood a kind of same-sexed couple

who eye the wide vistas of rolling hill together facing,

seasons coming and going, farm house,

outbuildings, barn.

So what if the porch and front steps

make such an odd couple?

The two provoke unease and suspicion

from this or that architectural morality system.

I long ago befriended those two,

cheering them on to stand firm,

joints braced to bear all the weight

for which such couples are designed.

Some folks prefer to think those two

are just good friends. The rest of us

know better,

watching them endure

all that has passed on our property.

I can freely tell you these two beloveds

are more than just good friends,

knit plank to plank,

framed soul space to frame soul space.

(In hot, hot summers

the farm kids will crawl righteously

into those shadowed spaces beneath steps and porch

where bare earth smells waft up

while boys measure the skillfully timed hits

of marbles moving inside

a hallowed game circle.)

The front steps love his porch, alright,

till wood rot and old age do part them.

Just as I love those horses over which

I help the barn keep watch,

one secret of such love

being that I open or close when I should

until time and use loosen me,

completely off my well-worn hinges.


Westminster House Closing Ceremony
Berkeley, California, USA
May, 2011

© 2011 by the author / Daniel Lee Fee


Read more Poetry on The Good Life.

Image credit: Rhys Asplundh/Flickr

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