Long Homestead in Winter

— Las Cruces, circa 1932

Not in any literal sense

a homestead: it was purchased

you learned from an old deed

sent you by a cousin. And in this

winter photo, strange with magic

of the never seen, a study in

whites and grays, foreground

trees and background barn shading

towards true black, porch windows

canvas covered against the cold,

original adobe brooding behind, just

one slender strand of air, smokey

warm you guess, rising from a single

flue suggests habitation, warmth

inside. No one living knows

its history now, when the barn

was built; porch facing pristine snow

now fades into surrounding silence. What

was the day like when someone, your

father perhaps, had hiked out the

back door around towards the railroad

track to capture the snow before it turned

to mud underfoot; foot sodden you suspect

later that morning when indoor

voices might have called to breakfast,

but leave your boots outside. All

gone wherever memories are stored —

you never saw the place in winter

but you slept many a summer night there

on that porch already mythical, heard the Santa Fe

hoot by, carry the present away.

  Julian Long

Julian Long is the author of Reading Evening Prayer in an Empty Church.

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