Deadwood twists and floats downstream.
Stones scrape against stones in a shallow riverbed.
A lone crow sounds from some tree leaning
over that road beside the water. When a shut gate
is eased open, its rusted hinges utter a sigh,
almost a moan. It is dusk, and darkness has begun
to fill the eastern sky, a slim moon already
rising high above the flat fields of these farmlands,
slipping between narrow screens of slowly
moving clouds just now forming along the horizon.
Every time we have arrived here, I’ve tried
to imagine what kind of lives we might have lived
had your father never left and the livestock
that had once knelt in the meadows never been sold.
Ever since then, nothing much has changed.
Each visit we have seen familiar sights, those sorts
of scenes bound to be found in photographs
stuck to pages inside our family album, still images
where everything and everyone always stay
the way they once appeared, remain the same forever.
Edward Byrne is the author of six collections of poetry, most recently Tidal Air (Pecan Grove Press, 2002) and Seeded Light (Turning Point Books, 2009). His poetry has appeared in numerous journals—such as American Literary Review, American Poetry Review, American Scholar, The Literary Review, Mid-American Review, Missouri Review, North American Review, Oxford Magazine, Quarterly West, Southern Humanities Review, and Southern Poetry Review —as well as a number of anthologies. Byrne is a professor of American literature and creative writing at Valparaiso University, where he serves as the editor of Valparaiso Poetry Review.