The Family Y(ode)r

I come from a big red barn,

From newlywed dreams of pigs and beef cattle

And maybe a few cats to keep the mice out of the corncrib.

I come from piles of warm, sleepy kittens,

From puffy tails, shaped like Christmas trees,

And insistent mewing than quiets only

When there is something interesting to chase.

I come from Varnes & Hoover Hardware,

From rows of shiny brass lanterns and sparkling Mason jars,

Where the cheerful Amish gentleman behind the counter

Is just as polite to the girl in the T-shirt that reads, in neon green,


As he is to the woman in the pristinely pressed bonnet.

I come from grilled pork in barbeque,

From salads with sugar and mayonnaise

And overstuffed subs sold by the thousand

To pay a boy’s medical bills.

I come from toasted olive-nut sandwiches

At the Olympia Candy Kitchen,

Where patrons shake their heads and say airily,

“You just can’t find this anywhere else.”

I come from wide-open prairie skies,

Blue and hazy all day, inky black all night,

And in between, a glorious palette of golden-tinged pastels

That demands further investigation,

That demands you stop and gaze.

I come from an old, weathered pier, with flaking white paint,

From crawdads and leeches and seaweed

And the delicate balance between the hot skin of the water’s surface

And the cold, murky, uncertain depths below

That vulnerable toes would rather avoid.

I come from prizewinning eggplants and Merino sheep,

From the Big Pig sleeping on a pile of damp hay

And fluffy, trembling rabbits and feisty draft horses

And gowns with perfect, even seams

Made by tiny, deft fingers

Whose skills I can only dream of, three times older.

I come from lazy, roundabout conversations

About kids and baseball games;

From the pause between catching up and resuming a life lived apart,

From counting rail cars at a crossing,

So fully focused on the moment

That weightier matters slip away; instead,

128 (plus two locomotives) is all that ever mattered

in the whole wide world.