Peering from my living room window.
I watched my brother cross the dirt road
to the one-room schoolhouse next door.
Dad watched too, and told a story of himself
carrying a fresh, splashing bucket of water,
hand in hand with his sister to the same #8
school. Two outhouses still stood round back,
girls and boys, the push and pull of the wind
slamming their doors back and forth.
Under the maples in my own yard, I stood watching
their recess; kicking balls, a merry-go-round flying
in circles, and big kids holding the back of bikes
to steady the new rider. The bell clanged and bodies
rushed for the door. I imagined, looking through
the glass, that I was opening the yard gate, following
my brother as he turned the doorknob into tall
The next fall, Paul Lee and I made up the entire kindergarten.
With a sense of familiarity and ownership I told him, Watch
out, you’re going to hell since you’re a Lutheran. His family
rode bikes a mile and a half while the Holubs came by way
of the mud road, hitching a white horse to the flagpole.
I listened to the others read to Mrs. Lasche as the pencil
sharpener chewed them to a point and the room filled
with smells of chalky erasers. Mittens dripped by the coal
stove, giving off a musky waft of drying wool.
I stared out the big school windows toward my own house.
Dad drove the red Farmall tractor slow, out to the field, while
Mom hung a basket of pants and diapers on the clothesline,
and Grandma threw a pailful of potato peels to the turkeys.
I stood there, fingers on the windowsill,
looking from one world
to the other.