Front porch, summer night, secluded
by arborvitae and brick half wall,
quiet under vaulted roof, cool
in heat, thick cushions on iron chairs where
a child’s feet almost reach the edge.
Calm place to listen, companionable silence
of little girl, daddy. Small
town in Ohio, crossroads of commerce
On Granville Road a block away growl trucks
heavy uphill eastbound to the new interstate.
From far east Morse Road, far west Linworth, freight trains
wail south to north full
oranges, peaches, peanuts, furniture, hogs, clatter
through crossings, motorists guarded by flimsy gates
spot engineer in square of light, count
cars, anticipate red caboose, wave to conductor.
A train that has been with flamingoes
goes back, leaves cars from Detroit
under Spanish moss, tires from Akron
amid palm trees, alligators and grand dim Hotel Alabama
where grandparents go all winter
grandaddy with golf bags, grandmother with books.
Upstairs now for summer, in their deafness
do they hear clatters, wails, growls, remember
orange blossoms? Sad
if grandparents can’t hear promises of adventure.
“Well, Little C,” Daddy abbreviates Little Creature,
“Are you feeling prosperous?”
Prosperous? Firmer than promise, must be good or
he would not ask, so Little C breathes “yeah…”
pensive, unsure but knowing she can be
whatever she might want,
whatever Daddy lets her know is as good
as the front porch on a summer evening.
— Frances Huggard Migliaccio