We have taken the long highway home again. The grass is tall,
cobwebs and the husks of yellow jackets ornament the basement.

While we were away our neighbor and friend who always invited us over
for salmon and potatoes died in his sleep on the couch.

Two healthy babies have been born, twins and nephews.
Someone broke in through a window downstairs–

took three televisions, two star quilts, a Pendleton shawl, the chainsaw
and one large bottle of laundry detergent.

They smoked cigarettes on the couch and drank pop from the fridge.

The way the horizon bends itself around 
our lives here might make us think 
we are exceptional. Walking the giant plain, 
wind-drenched, we found the fox kits 
we had been watching the previous summer.
Small bodies at the bottom of the open well. 
Probably at play, lost their bearings, 
and still too young to know any better.

Almost as ghosts, we come and go from this place, not at all 
like the known spirits who reside here, some at tranquil rest, others– 
one man died who died here fifty years ago poisoned his young wife
and raised their newborn son in a neglectful and angry home.
The boy grew up neglected and angry and killed his father.

Oh, the sum of these moments and our own, atoms and particles in constant motion.
Peel back their stratum, hang them on the clothesline in the breeze.  
Let their shadow shapes build nests finally out in the open.

Copyright © 2009 by M. L. Smoker. This poem originally appeared in Hanging Loose Magazine, 2009. Used with permission of the author.