Away From Home
Odd how the house is empty;
the formica kitchen table,
the washbasin long gone.
Next door the church fills on Sundays,
a new denomination, new minister.
Now it’s the All Saints Church
not the United Church of Christ where
Russ Shadow had been pastor
until it ran out of money and closed down.
For almost two decades he hovered
over the Greens and Shulas
before the congregation dissipated
to a forlorn moment
when the collection plate passed like a hot potato
returned an empty pot.
Russ moved over to Shermanville,
started from peg one to build a new parish.
And the little boy from the empty house
that stood on the table cold behind the window glass
hungry in his skivvies –
he must have been taken away about that same time.
The grandmother died
outliving the grandfather and
left the aunt to bite a bitter tongue –
the uncle now aged beyond his molesting years,
too stiff in the hips to finagle down the pew
to rub his thigh up against God only knows who.
Children never dare tell.
At the end of Agate Street across from the church
the house where the aunt and uncle live
still sets, brittle people inside –
dry as two pieces of clipped newspaper
yellow edged and fast disintegrating,
as if any prayers they ever knelt for passed them by.
As if Grand River wrapped a cold coil of suffering
round the little group of houses,
as an ague to settle in their bones.
© Ab Davis
Ab Davis lives in Sacramento, California, where she writes with a small group of practicing Buddhist women. Her work has appeared in several issues of the San Pedro River Review and Current Bellowing Ark Press, as well as Big River Poetry Review, Willow Wept Review, The Han Shan Poetry Initiative Pig Squash Press, Decanto (UK), the Buddhist Poetry Review and is upcoming in Illyas Honey and Pea River Journal. “Away from Home” is taken in part from Unraveling Red, a novel by Ab Davis that nears completion.