by Thomas Davis
“They’ve always been half nuts,” she said.
He frowned, looked pained, and shook his head.
“No matter what, they’re still my brothers,”
He said. “I almost hear my mother’s
Exasperation as she thinks
About the neighbor’s tongues, the stink
They’ve put the family in again.”
As pretty as an elf, her grin
Lit up her face and dark green eyes.
She looked up at the winter skies.
“Storms come and go,” she said, “and tongues
Will wag as long as songs are sung.”
“But Willie drove the tractor through
The barn’s west wall,” he wailed.
That Sammy brews could make a knave
Out of a saint inside his grave,”
She laughed. “They had a high old time
Until their words became a crime
Against their sense, and Sammy blocked
The barn door, shotgun ready, cocked. . .”
“The tractor didn’t even stall,” he said.
“It smashed right through the wall and fled
Into the fields as Sammy laughed
As if he’d taken up witchcraft
And addled who he was and sent
His soul into dark devilment.”
“They’ve lived together all these years,”
She said. “They’re old now. Human fears
Stalk dreams and make them long to see
A day when aching bones are free
Of pain, and memories aren’t lost
With morning dew or winter frost.”
“You give them credit when I’d like
To treat them like two kids and strike
Them with a pliant willow switch.
The tractor’s wrecked inside a ditch,
The barn’s west wall is half a hole. . .”
She stopped him with her hand, a droll
Look sparking flitting feelings shuttered
Like screens across her face. He muttered,
Alarmed at how she looked at him.
He’d never felt so ill or grim.
“They’re old enough. . .”
She shook her head.
“They’re ninety eight years old,” she said.
“What is a tractor or a barn?
Ten grandkids hence, they’ll tell this yarn.”
He startled, grinned, chagrinned, and said,
“My mother’s neighbors are all dead.”