The Harden Ranch
November’s cold has come round again
But no more family gatherings
Will be held at the Harden home.
Time has taken a heavy toll.
No more will we hear Aunt Jackie’s
Joyful laughter rippling from her smiling
Lips. No more will we see the calm
Serenity of Uncle Lance’s face.
The gruff silence of Uncle Ken could be
Intimidating, but more shy was he
Than stern. Aunt Norine was our never-
Tiring hostess, ever-busy
With the kitchen and endless laundry.
Granddad Art and Claire, his Yankee second wife,
Could be awkward, but we loved them all-alike.
Cousins of every age filled their hollow legs
With mounds of lemon squares and pumpkin bread
And enjoyed the boisterousness of youth.
Before Great Grandmother Garlington, our heads
Each we bowed, by age and virtue consecrated.
Outside, a cold wind blew in the dry grass.
New pecans, pressed together in the palm,
Yielded their meat for our food as we walked
Quietly along, gifts of the naked
Limbs suspended above us. And the bristling
Half-wolf Riggs gave us all a frightening
Greeting when we returned to the ranch.
Youthful days are gone; many kin have passed.
The Harden house is mostly empty now.
And the soul begins to think more
Of reunion in the heavenly home
Than of memories of meetings past.
Walt Garlington is a chemical engineer turned writer (and, when able, a planter). He makes his home in Louisiana and is editor of the 'Confiteri: A Southern Perspective' web site.