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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 10, Number 3, September 2016
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Tish Davis
Concord, Ohio, USA


A Sense of Place

I was born where the soil is rich in nutrients, where the Grand River’s rise turns its water westward passing through a community of relatives I no longer know.

Abruptly taken by maternal grandparents after our father’s unexpected death, I’ve been away for more than 50 years. I’ve returned now to make this place my home, to balance this aging body on the farmers’ furrowed fields and on the steep trails that run along the river and through abundant forests filled with bird song.

I want to locate the family vineyard sold long ago and ask if I might take a cutting. This is the place where my widowed grandmother would trim and compost in her calico dress and barn boots while teaching her children how to meticulously care for the Concord grapes she grew for Welch’s.

water
boiling in the kettle;
the purple grapes
saved for grandchildren
washed and glistening in glass jars

But no one in the family knows the address. My uncles are dead; my aunt has Alzheimer’s. Only today, does a cousin’s wife remember the name of the road. That’s all I need.

standing thin
behind the vineyard posts
we stop the game
to stare at the cows staring at us
through the slats in the cattle car

After pulling over alongside a dry ditch I step out but dare not cross over. The microclimate has peeled away the decades leaving only mottled green on bare wood. Even the pyramid of dust and stone beneath the front step is losing its shape. In that long and wide field to the south, the vineyard posts—the gateways to many games—have not stood firm.

where grapes
once ripened in the full sun
a doe
in the distant field
that was once ours

I leave this place and drive to where the Grand River empties into Lake Erie. They say the lake refreshes itself every two years. This I need to remember.

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