Power to Nowhere (2014)
I went back to the old place today.
In the backyard the fence still remains,
although time has scraped her finger down its side,
leaving rotting wood and peeling paint.
Through adult eyes I see neglect;
through memory I see home.
How many hours did they stand,
elbows raised, chins resting on the edge
of Mrs. Prichard’s fence?
My mother painted flowers on her side,
one-dimensional red and yellow tulips
scattered amongst strokes of green paint.
Originally, the fence was brown, just brown,
painted by a man named McVicar,
who used to live in our house,
before any of us were born.
The fence is falling down now;
no neighbourly chats take place across
that wooden screen.
A new fence stands in front of the old,
keeping guard, keeping out the past
and its backward ways of community,
I picture my mother, standing in her apron,
Mrs. Pritchard in her flowered dress,
laughing, smiling, giving advice
to each other over that hemlock hedge.
They are gone now,
leaving behind a power of belief
and a sense of belonging-
not in a dilapidated wooden fence
that divided our yards-but in me.
As I drive away, I count the telephone poles to nowhere.