Connecting with the gravel,
we leave a cloud of startled dust in our path
and Papa's small wood-paneled house comes into view.
The contrast of the stark white house and white Ford pickup
against the caramel-colored fields of hay
makes it impossible not to be drawn to Papa's house.
The image engraved in my memory is
my skinny papa wearing red flannel tucked into
jeans with boat shoes.
He's sitting on the wrought iron bench
with his long legs crossed and a white,
tick-infested lab faithfully by his side.
Papa's smile welcomes us to the beautiful
acres of land bounding around him.
The sound of gravel upon pulling up
to Papa's house now is bittersweet.
Weather and time have destroyed any
remaining sign of life left in that house.
The pickup driven to Memphis a hundred times
to see me now lacks tires and a running engine
and sits rotting in the drive.
The fields we used to run through are
overgrown with grass and
unbearable to walk through.
Papa's bench still stands along
with a million precious memories he left us.