These were more than echoes, the soft sounds I was hearing from the rear of the barn sitting back from Route 182 in Franklin, Maine, half a dozen fat pigs to one side, corn as deep as Iowa on the other side, and the terrain across the road flush with blueberry bushes until a slow rise tipped the landscape in its favor… and in mine. In my son Tim’s favor, too. He lives by this barn. Perhaps I had lived waiting for its sassy voices.
Pineapple yoghurt. Trifle. The last few months he wanted milky things. I bought a bottle of Rémy Martin. He took a sip, made a face. ‘It’s too much now, too strong. I’m sorry,’ he said.
For history and legend sakes, certain attributes, character traits if you will, have to be appointed here at the beginning of This old house (B. 1742), home for more than half a century of my life, and This old room, dressed with computer by me for the last 28 years. Yet I swear thick-cut Edgeworth pipe tobacco bears its welcome as strong as my grandfather’s creaking chair, diminutive Johnny Igoe’s chair. This most memorable compartment was also his room for 20 years of literate cheer, storied good will, the pleasantries of expansive noun and excitable verb, and his ever-lingering poems, each one a repeated resonance, a victory of sound and meaning and the magic of words. Yet be of stout spirit, for the chair mocks time only in the clutch of darkness thick as the eternal void, and the tobacco’s no longer threatening in its gulp.