Red spruce and fir have crossed the broken lines
Where ragged fences ran; ground-juniper
Covers the sunny slope where currant bushes
Blackened their hanging clusters in green leaves.
Where oats and timothy moved like leaning water
Under the cloudy sweep of August wind,
The crop is stunted alders and tall ferns.

Above the cellar’s crust of falling stone
Where timbered walls endured the treacherous
Traffic of frost and sunlight, nothing stands…
Under the wreckage of the vanished barn
A woodchuck burrows. Where the dooryard was,
The matted grass of years encloses now
Two horseshoes and a rusted wagon-tire.

Only the apples trees recall the dream
That flowered here – in love and sweat and growth,
Anger and longing. Tough and dark and wild,
Grown big of stump, rough in the bark and old,
They still put forth a light ironic bloom
Against the green utility of spruce.

Clearing and field and buildings gone to waste –
But in the fall, a gunner going home
will halt a moment, lift a hand to reach
One dusky branch above the crooked track,
And, thinking idly of his kitchen fire,
Bite to the small black shining seeds and learn
The taste of ninety seasons, hard and sweet.

© Harry Bruce, All Rights Reserved