When everything else is gone—
house, barns,
(well, maybe not the cellar)—
the tell-tale remains
of a homestead
are four cedar trees,
forming a square
in front of the place where the house
stood.
I’m not sure why;
they could only have been small protection
and provided little privacy
out here on the wide-open, windy plains.


The house that lived
where these trees stood
now lives a couple of miles
north.
We saw it pass by our house
one warm day
when we were children;
a giant, white, two-story box
on the back of a very long truck,
moving very slowly up the road.
A childhood friend
still lives in it
and only a few of us remember
that house once stood
at a different place,
the place where these trees still stand
and where, now, there is a pond
at which the neighborhood’s
Great Blue Heron
can often be spotted,
its thin, stilt-like legs,
perfectly still at water’s edge.
This is the Old Casebeer Place
and I don’t think the pond was here
when the Casebeers were.

These trees are intriguing;
I walk here often to stand near them,
as if they have something to tell me.
The Great Blue Heron always lifts off
as I approach,
however slowly, quietly.
It sometimes squawks,
in protest (I imagine)
of its privacy invaded.

The trees are oddly shaped,
having stood here for decades,
maybe a hundred years,
probably a hundred years,
in the wind and ice,
the sun and drought.

Two cedar trees remain
next to the farmhouse on our farm,
three-quarters of a mile north.
Two other of the trees our grandfather planted
more than a hundred years ago have died;
one not long ago,
its very heart
split open by ice.
I wonder if these two sets of trees
that live less than a mile from each other
still hold our stories.
Or if,
like reeds at pond’s edge, they
long ago
cleansed
and freed us.