the tree house is alone,
the house empty,
the hammock motionless.
quietly sits waiting.
the first headlights appear, then the second…
we know we are there.
one last hill stands as an ensign to all.
an old sign,
scarred and wind-weathered –
st. johns, arizona
quickly the scene is alive!
sparklers lighted, marshmallows roasted, fireplaces glowing.
endless starlit nights of laughter under jewelled canopy.
flashlights in hand we plunge into the night to capture the flag.
game after game… skittles, pit, uno.
the tree house, once alone —
now crawling with explorers,
hand in hand, the barrier of distance is broken.
as cousins together, we run free.
the swing set creaks,
syrupy smells of ripe apricots drift to our noses.
walks down dirt paths.
wildflowers in bloom… give us petals to press and remember.
the hammock groans beneath our weight.
billowing clouds linger overhead.
pottery excavations made in irrigation ditches.
the house booms with excitement, warped, old records play.
tattered golden books, signatured with dad’s childhood hand.
doll houses, roller-skates —
our smiling faces relive our parents’ youth.
the wooden floor is cold beneath our feet.
aromas from the kitchen make our mouth’s water, eager to help.
new babies cuddled,
picnic lunches under the ramada.
from the attic window we see pea-sized hail and a double rainbow.
50 cent snow cones stain our lips red or blue…
with towel and swimsuit we cool off from the warm sun, immersed in a childish sea.
on the basketball court we compete, then race each other home…
hot asphalt sinks beneath our feet.
shielding our eyes from the sun–
we watch the parade and feast on barbecue in the park.
perfumed ladies with purple hair pinch our sunburned cheeks.
sunday — the reverent old church building with a downstairs.
next street over the red brick house of grandpa’s birth.
baby sister buried in the garden.
the school yard now yawns where granny’s mother’s house was.
the gilded portrait, gathering dust —
my great-grandmother’s face,
(her rose bushes still in the front)
she now rests in the graveyard —
we visit now and then and retrieve precious grave rubbings…
our attempt to reach into the past and touch the lives of those before us.
those first, great ancestors from denmark — who trekked into the west.
rooting themselves in brigham city, then here…
our smiling faces,
in a delicate frame.
too soon beds are made and bags are packed.
after the last tailgates vanish the gate is closed.
the tree house,
once again alone —
the orchard echoes with cricket song.
the house, silhouetted against the sunset, empty —
the hammock motionless —
quietly awaits Our Return.