NO ONE SEES THE BARN
And you’ve got to wonder if anyone ever did
or if they saw an eyesore, a reminder,
the remains of Mr. Daniels’s divorce. “His wife was the rider.”
On their after-dinner walk they snort at the rotting door askew on rusty hinges,
a chronic reminder—time is disease enough.
Only when it became The Barn did they see it as a barn
and by then it was a proper noun.
It had moved on, become something else—
their imprecise yet known location, home.
“You know The Barn?” they ask the waitress who asks them, “Where are you from?”
while stopped for lunch at the diner with the blue awning
torn in such a way Good Food becomes God Food
which delights the northern travelers on their way down south
outrunning the same season they pride themselves on enduring.
It is their non-rhoticity,
their raised diphthongs and phonemic mergers that signal the waitress's question,
part of a con that if played correctly will end with a tip because she's exclaimed,
“No way, I went there as a kid!”
with all the motion of a swing, her hips float beneath her.
Recognized for their place on the map
(what a special thing to belong)
the travelers look content
and for some reason a little smug
as if their hands, the same hands holding menus
with impossible pictures of pancakes and eggs,
were the same hands that built the barn.
It's how I got this scar, the man appears to say,
and why I am so old, the woman chirps and laughs.
They leave the waitress a hefty tip.
But all of that’s deceit.
He’s right, no one sees the barn, still.
They see what once was, what could be, should be, would be,
what might be and what might’ve been if…
And then if they’re lucky, if we’re all lucky,
including the barn, most importantly the barn,
they see a precious thing,
a special thing,
a thing worthy of care,
a thing that has ripened freely into a magnificent yet delicate thing,
a proud yet inviting thing,
a humble display of excellence type of thing,
and perhaps most impressively—a thing that accomplished all of this on its own.
we do not see the future through the trees
in the forest of give me right now
my wants have become my needs
trinkets, trivia, talking points, gimme rn
something seen, discussed, and tossed away
buried alongside a childhood memory
where it holds less weight than the faint recall
of a red action hero shaped toothbrush.
And sadly, even before it’s discarded
when it’s plastered all around us
decorated with lights on religious and patriotic holidays
so we cannot miss it, absolutely cannot miss it from the highway,
we still don’t see the barn.
What do we see?
Perhaps what’s trite is true, we see what we are looking for
(such pesky things, these abstracts, what is happiness after all?)
So let’s do what we know best, sit back, undo our belts,
thumb the inside of an empty pocket,
pull our zippers down
here now, we’re getting started, that’s it…more.
On an endless sea of packaging a motor whirs, a propeller thrusts,
intrusive, loud, ineffable,
a shrillness sounds above
cutting through the rumble the collective shouts as one,