They had a wealth of indoor plumbing
and a once-gleaming Ford to pocketa pocketa
down Bremen's roads, a dusty flurry
the cows could outrun and did, come milking.
Neighbors astounded at both.
But it was land, in flooded fields
that snagged the soil their neighbors lost,
in muds of creekbeds overfilled
into the fallow, wrist deep
hungry for the seed,
that set them up in style.
In pictures too handsome for Grant Wood,
no pitchfork to hand, just Sunday's gotomeetin' starch
my greatgrandpapa pressed his hat
to his heart in a pledge allegiance.
His wife with a glance so longing
aside at the Ford like she'd rather be sweeping
Ohio dust along behind those
rubber wheels and ticktock engine.
Stood with no shoes on the porch floor creak
and dug wood spurs from that crevice
between the pad of the toe and the pad of the ball
where the skin is too tender and white.
Same porch that gleamed with whitewash
in their solemn odes to Daguerre
now greys like their hair would, splinters
like their bones did, buckles
like their belts under pressure.
Still a vigorous rose clambers the trellis
and pries the gutter from the porch.
Eat candied apples like my grandpa said
his daddy loved. There's your reason
to go to the fairgrounds for seven years
and stagger in crowds with a redlip clown mouth,
slipping the too heavy slick apple
to the cinders, and grab up dirty,
with a squashed bug bas relief
turning greed green.
Refuse to munch the other hemisphere
with rouged cheeks stuck
to the grating gravel.
She loved that Ford;
laughed at it lurching along
in the barnyard, to threaten
the chickens into half flight.
But he loved candied apples,
the barkers and freak shows.
They dodged out without children
for a last flight down Ohio roads,
leaving horses behind for my ancestors' loves,
the engine hiccough and too many apples
at a county fair at season's end.
And night without the extra set of eyes
the fist-sized brain, four legs
four wheels, and though it stumbles
stall means nothing outside of a barn.
Funny, at the fair now you can see
photographs of car meets train. Car loses.