the museum of americana

a literary review

Farm House (Burning Down) — Poetry by Dennis Hinrichsen

                              for the home place
 

She’s had enough—that farmwife—so why not
haul the mantle
to the lawn, the carved oak,

why not lay the banisters
like awkward spines along the road
for all to see.

In the distance, dust devils spin
a paralyzing debt,
feed barns

spot the landscape
with viral
Lutheran ethos.

She has prayed in those churches,
run her hands
into the pew’s dun wax,

felt something catch
not sin or Jesus.
Stood above the etched stone,

patriarch that marked us all.
                                          Now
she stands

with a box of matches in her pocket,
bull dozer gunning
raw immigrant rage

into the failed earth.
She watches: the first wall snaps.
She thinks, like a continent,

while elsewhere one son tells the story
to whomever will listen
about how he fell

from the barn’s slick roof
into the open book
of Revelations,

while another extends his long prodigal siege
cutting meat
in a slaughterhouse,

wanting to reclaim this world—his birthright—
but the fields are leased,
his mother lives in a double-wide

where the orchard was.
She has contracted the wreckage.
The house is tinder.

                                 She leans,
helps spray accelerant.
It makes small pools

in the hole in the ground. She thinks:
fragments of sky
for as long as it lasts.

Mirrors with birds in them.
And then she lets the match fly.
The entire volume

explodes,
fans her face—gusts, ignited ribwork.
Pieces of ash

in what floats away.
She, the one survivor standing. Husband
long dead, daughters

gone suburban.
Farm-life reduced to a row of sows
above a trough

of watery shit,
and hybrid seeds, ill winds,
a last scrawny useless horse—

                                      she lets
them burn.
Thinks, smoke is smoke, and a hieroglyphic.

 

~  ~  ~

Dennis Hinrichsen Dennis Hinrichsen was born in Iowa and  and has lived throughout the Midwest through much of his life. He currently lives in Lansing, Michigan. His most recent books of poetry are Rip-tooth (2010 Tampa Poetry Prize) and Kurosawa’s Dog (2008 FIELD Poetry Prize). An earlier work, Detail from The Garden of Earthly Delights, won the 1999 Akron Poetry Prize. New work of his can found in Hunger MountainThird Coast, and Sou-wester, and online at The Boiler.