The Mill on the Ramapo
after “Mill at Stowell” by Chauncey Ryder
(Remembering an old mill on the Ramapo River, New Jersey 1963-1965)
Because there is a river there are
willows bending like arms to keep us cool.
Because shadows stretch to hide the sky,
souls are shaded headstone by headstone.
Planks and mortar, brick stacks, silence―
for all we know, the soil is long past fertile;
scarred with footprints, furrowed with gravel,
as far as we see, the land is asphalt and light.
We saw the mill as children, then tried to see it again.
The wheel, generating the river as it turned,
when summers became those summers, a habit,
an island floating in the middle of a field.
Because we can’t really remember
what brought us there.
Because the consolation for having been
there is being forgotten.