Blue Roof Farm Revisited

by Elizabeth Greene

That house will never let her go, says Helen.
It hasn’t.  Kim, 89, bent, silvery, warm brown eyes,
light starting to fall through her, leads us
to her long low kitchen, wood floors scuffed from
generations of children and dalmatians
(gone now, the house marking their absence
with silence).

           The large south window
frames a perfect picture: towering English walnut,
pond, waterfall, red canoe drawn up on land for winter,
November bleached stalks and grasses,
gardens overgrown, but with the bones of care.
Close by, jays, bluer than elsewhere,
masked chickadees dip to the feeder.  Chipmunks,
red-tailed squirrels dart along the lawn,
disappear behind stalks of dry spent phlox.
In winter, deer will crowd round the walnut base,
grateful for the food Kim’s poured for them.

Outside, if you know where to look,
you’ll find Al Purdy’s weeping elm,
Roy Kiyooka’s golden willow,
bpNichol’s sumacs,
Bronwen’s lilacs.

Inside, I miss Kim’s paintings of factories in winter,
of northern hills and brush.  They’ve sold, settled
into museums or grander rooms
as if they’d always been there.
One enormous oak (not Kim’s) remains, spread over the back wall.
Further back, small photographs of water drops and ice,
soft-eyed does, snow on their noses,
bring the outside to an inner hall.

Things are different now, says Kim.
The weather’s different. Something’s ending.
Or beginning.  I can’t tell which.
I’m glad for the young people—
it will give them chances. 

In age, Blue Roof, its work not done,
drowses and waits.

— from Juniper Volume 1, Issue 3