close up shot of a vintage car s dashboard

I was in Franklin.  The last landmark

before Oil City where my grandparents

and Aunt Fern and Uncle Ted lived.

Where Thanksgiving and Christmas 

dinners were made, served, stories told

 about hunting and churches.  Where sets

of dinnerware and silverware were stacked

on shelves and in drawers.  Where garage 

sale items were treasures waiting for 

the right antique buyer who never came.  

Twelve miles I could have driven

to Halyday Run Road, driven up

the hill to the two houses side-by-side,

a mixed history too long entangled.

Looked at them from the road

seeing in and feeling the charged air

between Mom and her younger sister,

Mary – one married to a preacher,

the other a mistress.  There was always

a storm in the air.  Dad would say, when

the dishes were done after breakfast,

 “Well, we’d best be going.”  And Gram

would wrap her homemade cinnamon rolls

for me and offer them like a peace offering

as we’d leave.  Mary and Mom a cold embrace,

me dreaming of the deer antlers and bear

skulls and rifles at Uncle Ted and Aunt Ferns’

house, the men all hugging, Aunt Fern watching

with those sad eyes and Gram smiling –relieved,

pleased, dismayed – it was hard to tell.

I didn’t drive those twelve miles between 

Franklin and Oil City; I’d driven them before.