I left the ranch when the house burnt down
never rode a hay wagon again
or led the cows home at night
or see the wind waves in tall grasses,
after flinging matches in the dry air
to see smoke tails writhing.
A wall of resentment came down
between us, my grandfather and I.
A boy couldn’t see the old man’s loss of place
his big Victorian towered house come down
or understand the diminishment in a small town
that he suffered when he built
a smaller brick house from the ruins,
with the adobe Morman church
across the highway mocking him
His old world vanished then.
Ruins last forever in the ochre desert
after the irrigation ditches dry.
Remember the Navajo who came
hired help for the harvest
remembering other ruins, fires and losses.
I went back twenty years later
after they had died, he of age,
she of diabetes, the sugar beet disease,
that ravages the Morman towns,
nestled between green and black mountains
in the hot valleys far from anywhere
where grasses struggle to live
and tumbleweed clings to
swinging loose screen doors.