I remember that shack. The way
it swayed in spring. The scent of the wood
after the rain. I remember looking out the window
at the wild plums and prickly blackberries.
I would stay at the farm to spend time
with my grandparents. They’d teach
me about tending chickens, cutting corn,
and planting roses. I’d cut my hands
a few times a day. I enjoyed watching
the skies from morning to evening: the clouds
look better on the prairie. I wasn’t allowed
to go in the shack. My grandpa
caught me trying to go in there
a time or two, and he’d give me a stern warning:
something about how I’d find out when I was older.
There was something rattling in there.
The crops didn’t grow well near it.
Maybe it’s my memories failing me,
but it seemed like the sky was always gray
over the shack. I always wondered what was
behind that faded plywood. It didn’t fit
the rest of the scene. I never saw anyone
go in it. The flies would gather there. I read
in a newspaper after my grandparents sold it
that the new landowners, well, their curiosity got to them:
they opened the shack, and it was covering
a well. It went straight down some 25 or 30 feet. It had
a really creepy echo to it. Something didn’t
sound right when people spoke into it, and they
thought maybe it had something to do with the devil.
There were arcane letters and symbols in white,
the symbols for summoning the dead.
I can’t say that devil stuff makes a lick of sense,
but the new owners —
they went off the deep end. The husband and wife
were found running naked and screaming,
and there was a body in the field no one
could identify. The authorities buried the body
in a graveyard up the road.
I think the couple was a pair of bad apples. I wish
my grandparents had never sold their farm.
Younger generations don’t know how
to take care of nice things. They sullied
that good farm, and now teenagers
go there for some cheap thrills; they
hope for some midnight spooks
and floating orbs.
I would kill to go back for those plums;
I would love to sit in the field and watch
the clouds. I’d like to go back and dance
among the scarecrows. Whatever thorns
separate you from the good roses, those
thorns can only separate you for so long.
I want to go and sit in the well; I want
to be buried in the shack. I want to know
why my grandparents wouldn’t tell me
I was a ghost. Why I couldn’t be friends
with the neighborhood kids. Why the plums
taste like my blood.