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. 

 

But then, 

of course, 

yet again, 

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,

“What’s next?”