For the first months after we moved, the boxes of books, the files and legal pads, the lecture notes and annotated lists of pictures, and the crates in which the archive was held, had all been stacked on pallets, in the center of the main barn, covered with plastic and tarps to protect them from bat guano and bird droppings, while we planned the building of the back house. Though we are just two now, we had thought from the first to extend the old house so that the old man, and the old woman, too, if she would abide it, could live, secure and protected, watched over by us and by those we could find and trust to serve as caretakers. Later, we knew, we would also need that place, with its wide doorways to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers, its special shower and the long big closet to keep what was still needed or too hard to leave behind. We would not give up this farm, this land; that we were intent on.
But in the midst of this desolate activity, this inventory, small solaces, perhaps more painful to come upon than the growing realization of so much life wasted: pictures of those I loved, and those who have loved me. Molly, her head turned away from me to display the feathered ornaments she has woven into her hair in Mr. Daniel’s kindergarten class, the shallow focus of the 8x10 view camera’s long lens rendering almost indistinct the back yard in which she stands, dry and sterile in memory but, the negative reports, lush, overgrown. Taylor, at two still tow-headed, hiding behind a turned-up wagon. My love, before, even, I knew that I would love her, standing in the middle of the intersection of two dirt streets in Silverton, Colorado, looking, impatiently, past me and toward the mountains that, I remember, rose abruptly behind me.
Molly and Taylor are grown, now. They come here from far places and new lives, with lovers and wives, now with the child they are fostering, and he crawls across the chestnut wideboards, chasing the cat, while the dog follows, to protect him. They bring gifts and music and instructions as to what we are to do next: goats, chickens, solar panels on the roof of the barn, a retention pond for the livestock, bat houses for the slowly repopulating colony that once raced from the barn each evening at dusk, before disease ravaged and destroyed it. They plan to come here, when the time is right.
On Friday we will assemble to practice in the barn, and the music will leak out of the cracks to compete with the throaty roar of the dump truck as the Bushes come back from the job site up past Kripplebush, and then we will troupe noisily down the muddy pathway to the house to drink and eat and drink some more. David’s big bass sits in the pantry of the back house, where the old man kept his oatmeal next to his microwave and his minifridge on the table we brought with him when we brought him here. Surely someone will begin to play it, late, too late, when we are so tired but not yet willing to give it up, and we will think of something that the guitars can weave to clothe its call, and then it will be time to go, and to let go.