Northern Virginia

A subdivision morning,
In the part of Virginia that is not really the South,
In the part of March that is not quite spring:
Slivers of sunlight angle around clouds
In a sky of washed-out blue,
A dull glint on slate-gray waters (not a real lake).
Master Sergeants keep their boats here.
Pines, some ice-snapped, some in arabesque
Before a solitary daffodil, tinged with frost.
Frances and Paul (not their real names)
  are packing to move again,
Up the interstate, an hour farther north.
Children of this waning American century,
They carry little furniture but lots of sweaters, compact disks,
Wedding gifts in boxes they came in,
To a warren of townhomes,
Each with a shallow-rooted tree
Set in soil fortified with fratricidal blood,
Where the builder’s shovel has turned over Minie balls,
Pieces of bayonets, buckles,
Belongings of other sojourners
In this now accentless land.

In The Cook's House:
   North Carolina 2004

In the cook’s house, going through boxes:
We know not to call it that—
No one has lived here in sixty years.
Vines embrace bathroom fixtures long disused
And the boxes which hold
The layered artifacts of our children’s lives:
Last call on the pom-poms, girls;
Going once on the eight-track tapes.
One had not guessed that in time
The 1980s would seem like the 50s.
In the cook’s house, a past to be lived down,
Another to be let go.

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