The Helicon of too many poets is not a hill
crowned with sunshine and visited by the Muses
and the Graces, but an old, mouldering house,
full of gloom and haunted by ghosts.
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Mr. McCready's boy,
The one with the lisp
And the cow lick
And the black thick rimmed glasses
And curious fascination
Is outside again,
Standing by the side of the old highway,
Near rusty mailboxes
Long forgotten by time,
And a willow older than the sky,
Waving at all the big rigs
That occassionally amble up the road.
He smiles like a five year old
With a new toy,
His wide and wild eyes
Moist and alert and hoping.
And in tattered over-alls
Torn at the knees
He can hear them coming from a mile
Or two away,
Big silver sun-baked monsters
That say hello to him
As they rattle on by,
Because for some reason or other
They know him.
He is always there,
Always ready to flail
And wave a greeting.
He is the boy with the ratty blue cover-alls,
That always seems to be there,
Rain or shine,
Snow or sleet.
'That's the McCready boy, ' they say.
More to themselves
Than to anyone else.
As they thunder past,
Sometimes saluting him
With a wave of the hand,
Or a tip of the hat,
Or a blow from the diesel horn.
He's been there for so long
Even the old timer's remember him.
Old timers who no longer make
The two-hundred mile run through
The mountain passes,
On their way to Cedar City
And points beyond.
Sometimes, when it's just right,
And the sun dances over the tree tops
Like a golden firefly,
And the crickets begin their
And the breeze is so soft
Coming in from the south
That it's like a gentle kiss
Against the cheek,
He is there,
Standing in the soft grass,
With his eyes bright
And his mouth open and grinning,
Showing crooked teeth,
With his right hand high up in the air
And the truck drivers with their
East-bound loads nodding
Some recognition to him.
And this puzzles poor Mr. McCready.
He doesn't understand
Why they blow their horns
At such odd hours,
Waking him up in the middle of the night
At the most unpleasant moments.
He sometimes wonders
If he may have
That offended them.
But he isn't quite sure.
Sometimes he'll be out in the field,
Out of sight of the old highway,
And they will blow their horn,
And the lengthy salute will go on
Until the sound of the horn
Is swallowed up into the forest.
Other times he'll see them amble
Up the old highway as he chops
Wood out on the hill.
And he'll watch,
Wondering who they're waving to
As they rattle through.
Maybe they're just happy
To see some small semblance of life
Out here in the middle
For a hundred miles in either direction
There is absolutly nothing.
No gasoline stations.
Nothing but endless trees
And a green
That goes on forever.
But it wasn't always like this.
And Mr. McCready kind of smiles
When the memories ease
In with their gentle flood..
But his smiles seem to come
With a greater distance
He can almost see the old tree,
Can barely catch sight of the rusty mailboxes
That bear the family name.
And he remembers a time when they were new,
When he had painted an American flag
On the side so the people who used the highway
Could see he was a proud American,
That he wasn't afraid to show his true colors.
His boy would be out there every day
Standing under the shade
Of the old willow
And waving at all the cars and trucks
That went on by,
Cars that were headed to Crescentville,
And Cedar City,
And Oak Wood,
And Castle Ridge,
Most of them ghost towns now,
With more dust than life.
His boy was eight,
Just had a birthday
When it happened.
A truck had come up the highway
And its driver was fighting sleep.
He didn't have a heavy load,
But he was late
And making up for lost time.
The truck driver had fallen asleep,
First clipping the old willow,
Taking a chunk from its side,
And then he hit them.
He never even saw them.
They had tried to get out of the way.
But the truck was too quick.
And by the time anyone
Realized what was happening,
The damage had already been done.
It's been forty years.
He doesn't really mind the trucks
That haunt the old road,
Nor the drivers who wave from time to time
At the old tree,
Who tip their hat
And then move on into the night...
But he sure wishes
They would stop blowing their horns.
Copyright © 2011 Richard D. Remler