Upstairs Porch by Linda Whittenberg

These days, when I go back to the place
where I grew up, I stay at a Victorian B&B
where history is kept elegant.

I request the maid’s quarters upstairs
because it has an attached screened porch,
and I need quiet

after a day spent in a town of warped mirrors.
Evenings I rock while sorting out—names
on headstones, ruins of houses my people

once called home, Main Street half boarded up,
a corporate hog farm out near Indian Point—
all this with the backdrop of eight-feet high corn.

Behind screen-wire, up where birds nest, I listen
to night sounds—moths struggling to get at the light,
rustle of critters in the grass,

cricket music, which brings back summer nights
when I lay in bed listening to the sounds
of grown-up talk.

After memories I’d rather forget, after seeing
some folks for what could be the last time,
I need the moon seen through maple leaves
that turn its light into lace. I need fireflies
in the grass below, each flicker an event
I reassess from my high perch.
People pass before me, names I’ve almost lost,
so many people, easy to forgive,
easy to love from the upstairs porch.