With an undercurrent whiff of cowshit,
the milking house smelled like sweet grass
and bleach–Memaw, my earliest memories
are of you at work. The milk swirling beige
in a cistern–cow’s tongues leech like rope.
In one man’s house, I remember turning
a rainstick in my hands, over and over.
I remember the woman who flooded night
with all the searchlights–her ghosts rancled.
Those were the second years of caregiving: us kids,
old folks, my sick papaw, your aunt and mom.
I wish I could afford you the care you gave.
Maybe now, we both have our own ghosts
in our heads–different ghosts as distance
has moved us from each other.
But in the letterbox of my heart, a note etched
in bologna scraps and red pantsuit,
in bluegrass dancing and holy rolling,
in coffee creamer and in the wind-on-chime
under the spread of trees–in the farm
a half forgotten memory, a rue
of green around us, it spells out “G–.”