The Red Gate
Can you see us through the gate? the Tutelo ask.
I sprayed it apple red last winter, aerosol in my lungs.
Must be more careful in the time of masks.
But the red. The red! You can see it a quarter mile away, walking up the lane.
Crooked door opening to a wide mossy bed of poplar and walnut.
Shadows bend into each other. Locust limbs rest on the lazy fence.
An old wooden coop, emptied years back by the fox, sits where the home place was.
One hundred years and one thousand acres: apple orchard.
The caretaker’s house, rows of seven sisters’ roses wild and pink still push out
At the spring house. Into the north pasture.
A cemetery of pushed grey stones at the corner.
From the moss’d hillock, we watch with you, the old man whispers.
Far back, Washington rides down this old Carolina road.
Down the narrow valley from gneiss outcroppings, they see men cut trees.
There’s no story here of bloodshed. Grief comes in the disappearing.
A lush narrow vale of wild hickory, green so deep the streams weep.
What was the point? The girl slips behind wide walnuts.
Bear, deer, fox, big cats, the great horned owl in a valley so small only a few pass by.
Apples are picked, corn harvested, rumbling herds of Holsteins at the Blackwater.
Big white houses crumble, Holsteins are sold, the pastures bare.
Pears and wild cherries weave into rusted wire.
We come and go, down the paved ribbon.
Honeysuckle sinks rich dew-claws into old roses.
Close the gate. I’m coming.
I skip across the moss into the slender spring and slide into a silver envelope
of fresh, cold water.
Marjorie Gowdy writes at home in the Blue Ridge mountains of Callaway, VA. Gowdy was Founding Executive Director of the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art in Biloxi, MS, where she worked for 18 years. Now retired, she worked in other fields that fed her love of writing, including as a grants writer. Her poetry has been published in the Roanoke Review, Artemis Journal, and Valley Voices (Mississippi Valley State University). Her essays are included in Katrina: Mississippi Women Remember (2007). Gowdy also paints, with a recent work accepted by the Virginia Beach Artists’ Center.
[image: Leonardo’s Red Gate, Noel Paine]