My new poems podcast, Words by Winter, can be found here.
Last weekend I showed my daughters around the barn my sisters and I used to play in. The old red barn, where I used to fling the feed in the general direction of my chickens so I could get the hell out of there before Big Red, the rooster, attacked me. We used to build hayforts in here. See that beam? That’s where the rope swing used to be. When you jumped, you had to be careful not to fall through the hay chute.
Now I look at the barn and try to figure out how old those supporting beams are – two hundred fifty years, maybe? Standing there with my daughters, telling them family stories, I could feel the shadow presence of my sisters, the selves we used to be, wandering the woods of our childhood.
Young Relics, by Emma Hine
They broke into houses,
my sisters. The empty ones,
just built, where nobody had yet
tried to sleep. Little mounds
of sawdust still in the corners,
no floorboards loose.
I imagine them being the way
I’ve seen them be with horses,
hands gentle on the walls—after all,
a house must learn to hold a family
with all its quivering systems
of energy and grief. I once saw Sierra
with a colt that wasn’t ready
to be ridden. She stood in the stall
and talked until his heart rate slowed.
All through our neighborhood
new houses were dark and panicking.
Bringing comfort where it wasn’t
supposed to be, no key for entry,
no light allowed, just a ritual gift
for the rooms alone to remember:
hands on their painted flanks.
Voices in the eaves.