Areas of my ramshackle chicken coop are filled and covered with odd-and-end antiques. I don’t buy them; they just seem to find me, in ditches, from neighbors and friends, at thrift stores. I love them for their shape, color, and design. More deeply, they speak to me of people and times long faded. My book Rabbit Lane: Memoir of a Country Road is partly about the voices of the peoples and cultures that have died, giving way to the young and new. The young and the new, however, find much of their substance in the past, whether they care to acknowledge it or not. When I want to feel the voices, I walk on Rabbit Lane, or retreat to roost in my coop. (See Chapter 15: Of Foxes and Hens for a description of how my chicken coop was built.) This poem is about my chicken coop antiques and the voices that still whisper.
Reaper’s rusted scythe screwed to weathered wood.
Glass milk bottles glazed with powdered cobweb.
I have surrounded myself
with old things
that gather dust to cover rust.
Springy sheep shears that built bulky forearms.
Blue-green power line insulators.
I bring them inside walls
of bricks and unplaned planks
and windows of rainbow leaded glass
that once walled and windowed others’
houses and living rooms and bedrooms and kitchens,
and sit with them.
Buckboard step that lifted a long-dressed lady.
Sun-bleached yolk with cracking leather straps.
White skull of an ox.
Filigree voices whisper
the virtues of old ways,
without judgment of me
or my time or my ways,
in gratitude for not forgetting
altogether. I prefer their voices
to the bickering blogs
and testy tweety texts
of now. They tell me they were
practical get-it-done devices
with no axe to grind or soul to skewer.
Brown-iron horseshoes open upward
to catch the luck, nails bent and clinging.
Vestiges of sky-blue on the rickety bench
I sit upon.