On visiting Hunterdale with kin long after Grandma died:
It was pathetic to look at–
Grandma’s glorious garden overgrown with grass.
Her long back yard littered
with automotive and boat wrecks.
The scuppernong vines half
the size they were back when.
Still, amidst the mess, I could make out the spot
where I first knew my Uncle Bill as the person he was.
I could hear him talking with my dad over the neighbor’s arbor.
The rich, languid pace of Bill’s voice.
The more clipped but equally spacious tones of my father.
The rhythm so familiar.
The timbre soothing
in the deep way of Grandma’s stillness.
And there I was,
looking at the spot where a great tree once stood
and beneath which I watched
Uncle Bill work on his journal.
It was a rag tag Woolworth’s notebook of a thing
filled with random quotes and stray reflections,
clippings from newspaper cartoons and articles.
I was transfixed.
In the summer of ’77, I would have been 13 years old and full of life.
Maybe it was ’78.
When I got back home
I bought a big, spiral-bound thing with a purple cover–
and started my own.
I didn’t know what to do with it.
It was enormous all empty like that.
I filled it with Mark Trail comics
and paeans to Uncle Bill
and lost and found loves.
In such lost groves and abandoned arbors,
beneath trees that only root in memory now,
in books with uninked pages,
in the company of blood so strange and yet familiar,
the writing life–
it came for me.