Indian grass is mingled
among the Bermuda, not yet ready to mow.
Round bales from an early cutting
stand in the southern corner of the pasture
          where I am walking,
seeking remnants of the old house.

In my memory
the ruins had lain just past
a stand of blackjacks and bois d’arcs
across a little creek on the edge of childhood.

Moving parallel
to the abandoned railroad track,
west of the field
          I see
the bright orange flame of Indian Paintbrush
splitting coyote bones
          returning to earth,
the decaying, grey remains of the predator,
fertilizing the wildflowers.

Half a century away,
the unroofed walls once stood
with a crumbling chinaberry tree
pressed to its western wall.
I climbed those limbs more than once
to swing inside an empty window
          and stand
on a delicate fraction of a second floor,
mostly fallen to rubble below me.

June was exploding
as I sat on an unreliable fragment of 1969,
peering into the blue future
faster than the eastern wall
of my embryonic nest among the ruins,
Creedence rocking my transistor radio,
          blasting the summer
like a detonation of distant claymores.

But this June,
fifty years flown,
finds me crossing a dry streambed
          to stand in knee-high pasture grass,
unable to find a trace of the place
that did its best
to shelter my teenage self
from the death and destruction
living in a black and white television.

Even the antique chinaberry has fallen
          into the past.
Nothing remains of my sanctuary.
Only the menace of the twenty-first century
and the bright orange flames
          grown through coyote bones
see me now
still searching for shelter.


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About the Author

Ron Wallace is an Oklahoma native and currently an adjunct instructor of English at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, in Durant, Oklahoma. He is the author of ten books of poetry, five of which have been finalists in the Oklahoma Book Awards. He has just finished editing Bull Buffalo and Indian Paintbrush, a collection of Oklahoma Poetry, and his first novel, A Secret Lies in New Orleans was a finalist in the 2021 Oklahoma Book Awards for fiction.

Ron Wallace
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