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The Old Zimmer Place
by Michael Escoubas

held our family close those four years
in the mid-nineteen fifties, before we
found a house in town that didn't need
straw-bales to insulate the foundation.

Back then, we were prisoners of the city,
in jail so to speak. Coal-dust filled the air,
horns blared, traffic chugged and bumped
behind cement-mixer diesels—servants

of growth and progress. But here, in the heart
of farm-country, my brothers and me found
something just short of heaven, or so it seemed:
wheat fields sway and sing, soybean rows

stretch from our toes to the far horizon,
yellow corn tassles swirl pollen-dust to waiting
female silks, we learned that plants have sex.
Barns and outbuildings became castles

and pirate ships, they were anything we said
they were. At play on that old split oak
we wondered why it bent the way it did.
We made perfume from the wild lilacs

blooming on the fence row. With unbridled
joy we presented mother with the best gift
of her life (or so she said). Some cruel
kids told us we were poor. This was new

information to my brothers and me—
all this time, out on the farm, we found
that priceless something, call it what you will.
I come here often now, in my old age,

when I've had enough of town and wealth,
when I long for something beyond the words
that tell of it. A fragrance waits to be savored:
lilacs squeezed in a bottle, gift for my mother.


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