Thursday, September 24, 1998

Iron Tower

Iron Tower (980924 - Raleigh, North Carolina)
Behind my Grandmother's house
behind the place we played in the turtle ditch
where there was mud in our toes
and a tire swing that smelled like horse urine

A rusted iron bell tower stood, bell-less

Undefiant, it was as inanimate as the church it stood next to
strangely out of place in the small southern town
a thing more suited to a third world country, or Spain

and we, only three feet high, would climb
it seemed weeks from bottom to top
and we would sit and read the scratched in inscriptions
until we were not afraid to look out over the city

the iron tower had lost most of its paint,
turned reddish brown of rust
and the wind was almost white with heat
a heat that had baked the life out of the churchyard grass
which shook in the breeze below, a broad expanse
of yellow, punctuated by the brown mud hills
of crawfish mounds

from here we could look beyond my grandmother's house
and see far, far away, to the red brick methodist church several blocks away
I still do not know what kind of church erected the iron tower
but it was not methodist.

And the Silsbee summer was almost silent in those days,
silent but for the occasional car drifting past in no hurry
the only other sound the wind through the line of
short maple trees between my grandmother's property and the churchyard.
Honeysuckle blossoms stained the wind a sweet incense smell

We sat in the iron tower and pretended to play
but mostly we were silent, thinking about nothing,
moving clouds with our minds
I do not remember if we realized how magic that time was
if we knew how good we had it,
but it seems that we did

On my last trip home I went by the old churchyard,
but the iron tower was gone
sad, because I had intended to climb it again,
though now I am 25 years older
and I know about tetanus
knowing that you can never really go home
does not seem to make it any easier
were I a child, I would return there
and will, when I am that age again.
-Tim Allen

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