The House on Black Rock Road
The marsh is dry and the woods have been
hauled away. They buried and paved the creek,
mowed the hills, muted the slope to the ditch
where I used to play. I slept in the house
and walked in the long fields of onion grass
and clover. At home I took my shoes off
and found strange words written in burrs on my
socks. I heard gunshots and didn’t know
to be afraid. That house still feels close by:
the curling edges of the kitchen floor,
the patches of pillow-smooth moss in
the basement, the tilted canopies
of the willows lined up like a firing squad
along the property line.
They condemned it after we left, let the
firemen practice on it. The flames licked and
climbed, smoke tumbled from broken windows,
wallpaper wrinkled, walls buckled, wood and
plaster fell away but it started long before that,
the tiny hands painting mold onto the steps,
poking their stiff fingers up through the linoleum,
swiveling the moon so it shone only
on our house, haloing it in silver light.
That house was always going to burn.
How were we going to stop it.
by Ann Arbor poet Brian Short who is an award-winning fiction writer and poet. He is the co-founder of Fiftytwo Project, and the creator of Michigan Radio’s online “Michigan on the Page” series. You can hear Brian’s interviews with U-M faculty and students at the U-M College of LS&A Wire’s “In Their Words” series. He also produces the Ann Arbor Moth StorySLAM. Photo from the ”Anyone Series, Fieldbound” by Chrissy Deiger (www.chrissydeiger.com).