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,
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
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
© 2011 by the author / Daniel Lee Fee
Image credit: Rhys Asplundh/Flickr