The Only House on the Left by William Scott Hanna

Forty years before 
this brokenness, 
before bed-riddenness
exchanged longing 
for servitude,
before the silent 
midsummers on porches,
where you became monuments, 
to time’s slowing and speeding,
the coming on of that evening 
light in august,
before knowing all that its passing 
will take away,
the crabapple bloomed 
white the spring of ’74,
forsythia bursting 
yellow on the hill,
green ground and wood
tugging at our guts even then, 
pulling down, 
swelling and pregnant, 
memory digging in,
root, and leaf, and sky, turning
toward words 
we would never end up saying,
always turning toward
the empty winter of now, 
when cardinals croon in the pines,
chickadees burrow in the yews,
bare-branched maple and locust thatch 
against gray November skies 
and the light in the back woods,
falls finally in morning, 
silvering the frosted grass,
and later in evening, 
lays the pine shadows out 
long across the east field
by the empty house 
where no eyes or voice or body, 
or even memory
is left to bear witness. 

A life-long resident of the Upper Ohio Valley, William Scott Hanna is an Assistant Professor of English at West Liberty University in West Liberty, West Virginia where he teaches creative writing, American and Appalachian Literature. His poetry and creative nonfiction has appeared in Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, Heartwood Literary Magazine, Cleaver Magazine, and Still: The Journal.

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