The Homestead (the poem)

Last week, I posted a short prose piece about the visit that my father, uncle, and I made to our family’s homestead in Kansas. In that piece, I wrote that we spent some time in the morning driving around the wrong part of Smith County. This poem is based on events when we stopped at one site that Dad and Uncle Stan thought might have been the homestead. Dad and I were standing at the edge of a bluff looking down at the remains of an old farmhouse next to a stream. Next thing I knew, Dad was bounding down the hillside toward the house. Read on for the rest of the story.

THE HOMESTEAD

I think this is the place, he says,
then bounds down the bluff
like the twelve-year-old boy
he had been sixty years before.

The dirt drive curving down the hill,
the remains of a house next to a stream,
and the fields that looked like those
in which he ran with his cousins,
seemed to fit old memories.

I watch him move through the brush,
then, next moment, he’s on the ground,
face down, not moving,
and he’s my seventy-two-year-old father again.

Just as I start to run to him,
he crawls forward a bit,
stands, and dusts himself off,
smiles, waves, and yells, I’m okay!
I had to crawl under a barbed wire fence!

By the time I reach him,
he’s had time to remember.
This isn’t the place, he says.
But it was enough to bring boyhood back.

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