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.