We drew back the curtains
on old stained photographs,
lingering long and languid
like a Southern sunset.
It was a prairie color,
that dripped down
like kindled crimson
over the eyes and minds
of the antecedent generations.
They said that they were never the kind
for pomp and circumstance,
when they struck oil,
they sure fell into lock step
with the Geneveve’s and Rasmussen’s.
Straight from the pages of a story book;
large as life and twice as tragic.
Their house burned down mysteriously
during that hot summer that killed the crops.
Too hot for growing,
too hot for picking
and some say that the sins of past successes
came back to haunt them
in the form of dead cattle
and then the fire.
Everyone looked at them a little different,
even in the church there was a long look
and a quiet word behind a concealing hand.
Never spoke much to them directly,
but old’ Cutty Greitzwich told many tall tales
about the excesses and infidelities
of our local debutantes
and if you’ll excuse the expression;
the tales spread like wildfire.
The capstone of our little community;
a burned out old shell,
cast right into a bleak poster board history
by the strained eyesight of local oracles.
It was Cutty who took the picture
and out in front you can see the jaundiced image
of a well worn ivory suit
and a downcast future bride
already longing for the grave.
Not all ghosts haunt graveyards.
I think sometimes,
the image of a forlorn spirit
can be trapped in a moment in time.
When that old house burned,
the people of Crossfield County
but we knew it was just a matter of time
that our guilt would match the tales
and we would be haunted
by that old image
of the richest family in the county
and their secret lives.