Grasmere NH

14 Jul



both hands gripping the wheel, sitting stiff in the family two-door sedan

clothing and bedding stuffed between crying children


the gray exhaust smoke trailing behind her husband’s pickup truck.


when they first bought that furniture, some, many years ago,

and wonders if they were ever going to use any of those tools


tied down with frayed old rope, ready to break.

They were being escorted past fading stone walls,

past their boundary markers, exiting past granite posts.


in a black and white, with blank expression,

young Jake; one of the town’s three policemen.

Following behind

in an old car, pushing through the dust, was the “scary, but doing his job” bank man.



Entrance posts,

granite markers in silent dignity. Now, barely an entrance,

lean like ghosts in crooked postures

with torn shattered stained brown holes from forged steel hinges,

witnesses of the missing heaven’s gate.

Stone walls

picked, packed, pried under, and wedged in-between;

stones perfectly placed beneath green moss caps

give them the air of Solomon statues, dividing pasture and property.

Top stones

plowed up to the surface of the fields.

Some two inches above ground, others found furrow deep.


lifted with children, wife, shovel, sticks, oxen,

with great accomplishments, with what they used.

Good stones for walls. Big ones plowed around.

Granite for the barn and homestead foundations;

Accepting their knowledge, ignorance, intelligence, religion,

and their self-abandonment to labor for independence;

home, was where all were born and welcomed.

The barn,

in the distance, not far from the foundation of a house,

a dilapidated structure with its sagging and jagged broken edges,

sunlight brightly sprays through its caved in roof and gaping seams.

Insects, crawling or creeping, come alive

in a puff of dust startled by a break-in breeze.

Swallows fly through the missing doors and the roofs’ inviting holes,

nesting between scraps of baling wire, old nails, and missing farm tools.

Spider webs weaved un-disturbed, still catch what the barn has always gleaned.

Floors gouged, beveled smooth, from the compost pile to traipsing through with livestock

expresses the determination and direction of those who worked with a grateful burden.

Hay, corn, eggs, milk, meat, and grain from sun-up to sundown

except on the Sabbath, traditionally celebrated before Sunday dinner and concluded

in early evening with children’s songs, poetry and bible readings;

all hands clapping on exit, with that day’s goodnight wishes for pleasant dreaming.


Dirt tracks

well caked, straddle the high seasons’ drying grass.

Hints of the proud, active, independent, and God-fearing occupants;

those now dead or dying in cultural extinction, or for that matter,

drifting like dandelion seeds over water.

An abandoned New Hampshire barn outlived by time,

passing with its occupants, it too, bows to its final applause;

“Adieu” without any purpose or benefit of use; accepting where it must fall.



The farmer’s children,

watching with difficulty their kin-ship subservient to city mills,

factories, trolleys and buses without seasonal scented air,

clean well water, fresh picked vegetables, or the big maple tree shade.

Most, living on the brink, some found shelter in cultural circles

some died at their machines. Others, went with suicide in melancholy

using liver rotting drink.

Their history

refusing to be repeated, also became extinct.

Without stone walls, shelter was futile to seek.



I remember

going through Grasmere, for a country ride sitting in the back seat,

licking an ice cream cone, going by the county farm and poorhouse.

Watching Uncle Oscar bless himself whispering to Aunt Rachel

that uncle so-and-so, cousin Clive, and even his Aunt Rose

were, or use to be, in those buildings of granite, brick, steel doors,

and bars across the windows. Clicking their tongues and slipping in words

like wicked drunkenness, and bouncing weekly checks to tenant landlords.

No one wanted to talk about “why” or “what for”?

Shhhhhsss! “Don’t drip your ice cream cone. Use your napkin.”

Without smiles,

they both continued in silent understanding:

knowing about the move from the farm to the “home.”

Arms and noses connected to clear dripping hoses

from red cross surplus stores. Plastic contraptions that hang

nestled between bed rails, dangling on hinges of mass-produced chrome-plated manufacturin’.

Hey, it replaces County bars and rubber wheeled up-right washing pails… and

the mandatory head count of the shift changing guards… and

silences the jingle jangling keys of that damn jail.

They have recognized their destination, and their own impermanence.


are seeping through their ancestor’s foundations.

They are lying still, there is nothing left for the dying incarcerated,

except to plan their eternal rest.

They will pass through the Grasmere county ground

surrounded by the rocks our families found and carefully placed.

They will soon lie below familiar space between heaven and granite.

Dirt in their proud face, which glory will embrace

in the land, they finally own.


I remember going through Grasmere, for a country ride sitting in the back seat,

licking an ice cream cone, going by the county farm and poorhouse.


Granite, chipped and patiently drilled, blasted, sheared,

crushed, crumbled, and paid for in advance, with life, art, and diligence.

Markers of souls, faced and polished, inscribed with history on wings,

six feet above coffins, encompasses all property above and below.

The granite sustains, polished and pitted. The ghosts are escorted

into the same direction towards home. Singing a toiling chorus,

memorized with the lifting of every stone,

which their angels never, ever, let them sing alone.




Tags: , ,

8 responses to “Grasmere NH

  1. ZQ

    July 14, 2013 at 10:50 pm

    🙂 Thank you Sherry.


  2. ZQ

    July 14, 2013 at 10:49 pm

    Farming was a busy life and self productive with pride…the transition from that was very difficult with the purpose of tasks for just a paycheck.
    Thank you Mary.


  3. ZQ

    July 14, 2013 at 10:45 pm

    Yes…long…I was and still am conscious of that. I’m still working on it as part of a Volume. It is only a piece. Thank you for comment…as usual 🙂


  4. ZQ

    July 14, 2013 at 10:42 pm

    Thank you Paul


  5. sherry blue sky

    July 14, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    What an incredible write – and life history – this is. The way of so many small farmers – a comfortable, if hard working, way of life, now almost extinct. So poignant , the image of them leaving their homestead escorted by the law……….heartbreaking. I loved this poem, and this story, and the love with which you told it.


  6. Mary

    July 14, 2013 at 6:11 pm

    This certainly seems like a very difficult life!


  7. dsnake1

    July 14, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    okay, this is a long read, but i enjoyed every strophe in it, especially the last one. I think this is still happening now, in developing countries (China, India) where the rural people migrate to the cities for better paying jobs. (your strophe III). I liked how you used granite markers to start and end the poem. 🙂


  8. Paul F. Lenzi

    July 14, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    I was engrossed – really wonderful



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: