I walk through that old kitchen in my mind
Everyone shucked corn on the back porch,
then fed husks to the patient cows.
We all drank from the same dipper-
cold, sweet and silty from the spring house,
even though the sink had running water.

The squeaky screen door would bang the frame.
I was not bothered by the outhouse
(during the daytime anyway) –
light slivers between the milky boards
showed lime dust on my bare feet
and spiders hiding in the corners.

Homemade rag balls covered in corduroy
had withstood at least 60 years of children.
Wickets and mallets under the house
were an incomplete game we didn’t know.
Crawdaddys in the creek and laid rock walls
were preferred over old books and tools.

A long table squeezed in under the stairs
accommodated shifts of meals and cards.
The linoleum was worn through in spots,
and window weights creaked on frayed sash cords.
The iron cook stove held stately court,
but the new one was a jaunty yellow.

The adults kept to their careful orbit,
giving us the space to be apart.
The dinner bell heard across the fields
called us in from our rock palaces
to come and eat, or pick blackberries,
or to point out moths the size of saucers.