Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Quartet for an end of landscape, with farmhouse




At first it was his stretch of fields, a lease for a neighbour’s expanding yield
after health forced him to pause. The spring my father couldn’t plant, Ontario sky

of variable spelling, monochrome, exaggeration
of slow cloud. His sleep apnea, diabetes plus

, that set retirement to root. Downstream, we watched three tractors pull
their crop of soybean

acres-clean across a morning.

A few years later it the land: shorn off and sold. From the basecamp
of retained, remaining homestead: farmhouse, sheds, the barn. His cancer surgery

surpassing marks, a marked and marker. Held
his ground. A land                       condensed. He drove

his gator to survey the boundaries. Where
he could not walk.

As ALS crept further, strolled electric wheelchair up the laneway,
hand curled up, around

the dog’s leash, bounding forth.



A farmer with no sons but one, who chose
a separate path. Embroidery of a curve

away. A daughter: thus, invisible. These
tiny changes made to earth.



The nagging suspicion                           of a counter of exchange,
an erased fenceline he could trace

ungrammatical. A birdsong, custom purposed            to
a steady, measured stitch of rain. A phantom

set of tree limbs, trails.                 To watch him grasp 

the cypher, signal, of each leaf, yet occupy
such bounds of silence. An unending pair

of ambit, errant children. A moment, as if
to stumble, still.



My father, long and overcast.

Upon his death, pandemic: house is slowly emptied, harvest; strata
of a life well-lived. Disassembled, scattered; donations

and inheritance alike. Is newly occupied

through rental agreements, the shake
of one good hand. Eight decades of tenure, my father’s cremated remains;

boy, am I

as hand-drawn figures in the landscape. Offered up as ghosts,
before the sun-bleach of the spring. These

blueprint pencils fade.


1 comment:

sandra said...

Thanks, rob. I know those fields, that kind of passing.