We went to see,
To find out if we had forgotten something.
After hours of driving away from the city, we took the back road
And parked in shade beneath a dusty sycamore.
We walked and took it slow, only the measured crunch of boots
Down the long stretch of dirt and clumped pea gravel.
Your eyes were alert for mockingbirds, mine for red-winged blackbirds
Perched on the tremor of reeds along the shallow river.
The sun low, just above the hills and lower fields
Laden with hay bales and sharp with stubble.
Pale clustered crowns of Queen Anne’s lace, purple clover,
A tall bent oozing milkweed stalk.
Dark clouds raced in from the west.
Finally, long privet hedges tangled with thistle.
We had arrived.
A low shingle roof broken open,
Rafters like bones,
A generation of dirt on the warped front porch greasy with vines,
Gouged out eyes of windows,
Fractured pine door panels,
The same wooden chest in the musty front room,
Black mold along a leaking wall had stained linoleum,
Fallen chair legs askew, a tobacco tin,
Back in the kitchen shreds of crimson oil cloth like the sneer of lips.
No, we had forgotten nothing.
Off the back stoop, a young box turtle sits alone and still
In the coiled brown rain like a crumbling icon of jagged gold.
Shelley Gotterer lives in Nashville, Tennessee. Her writing adventure begins after twenty-seven years as an accomplished storyteller. Her Master’s degree is from Northwestern University from the School of Speech. She was a long-time performer and teaching artist for the Tennessee Arts Commission. She also has been a featured workshop leader for schools, libraries, and community organizations.
The National Storytelling Network awarded her two Membership Grants, 2014 and 2016 from for her storytelling projects promoting oral language development for young children. Learn more at www.shelleygotterer.com.