Your house burned yesterday. Not
to the ground, not in consuming
flames, as you might imagine—
it smoldered in the walls. A pine tree
downed the power lines. Electrical surges.
Firemen had to tear down the bookshelves,
insulation, floorboards older than you
would be by now. Everything charred
in that corner you filled for fifty years,
with your half-glasses and manuscripts.
It’s rented now; they’d moved out all your
things, so none of that burned. They keep saying
it would have been better had the house burned
to the ground. Aunt Betsy spoke of ghosts.
Are you there now?
As if anyone knew.)
And now the smell of smoke,
the water-damage. Pine-boards lying
slant-wise in the wreckage. Mom still
tells of waiting for the cows to cross,
and riding her bike to get milk
at the Lewis farm. The pines
you planted together grow in rows
that begin to lean inward, undisciplined.
You’re here, as I drive by miles of toppled
stone walls and lost foundations along the Taconic,
buried in maples.
Which is not to say
I’m homesick, exactly, though I want
to dig into the loam of your garden. A kind
of violence necessary for propagation.
Some trees need a fire to sprout.