At the Old Homeplace

Photo and poem by William Ruleman

to my daughter

“Even the bricks seemed soft.”

             --overheard in passing.

You smile with a wistfulness I cannot fathom,
Despite the fact that all life lies before you.
Do you miss those “clouds of glory” trailing behind you?

That was a year of magic for you, aged two:
We’d play Cinderella under the magnolia tree,
Though I (overworked) often felt myself a phantom.

And what of the time you began to hobble on
The gravel drive, feigning that you were leaning on
A cane like the one your great-grandmother once gripped?

The action stupefied me then. Still does.
She’d been bedridden since your infancy.
Was this a case of collective memory,

Or were you simply seeing ages ahead,
The land re-claimed and you become
That other woman, decrepit yet triumphant?

Perhaps I fondly wish . . . Yet how explain
These sights that stay forever fixed in the mind?
Perhaps I will know the day when they are One.

WILLIAM RULEMAN's poems have appeared in many journals, including The Galway Review, The New English Review, The Pennsylvania Review, The Recusant, The Road Not Taken, Rubies in the Darkness, The Sonnet Scroll, and Trinacria. His books include two collections of his own poems (A Palpable Presence and Sacred and Profane Loves, both from Feather Books), as well as translations of poems from Rilke’s Neue Gedichte (WillHall Books, 2003), of Stefan Zweig’s fiction in Vienna Spring: Early Novellas and Stories (Ariadne Press, 2010), of prose and poems by Zweig in A Girl and the Weather (Cedar Springs Books, 2014), and of poems by the German Romantics in Verse for the Journey: Poems on the Wandering Life (also from Cedar Springs Books). He is Professor of English at Tennessee Wesleyan College.

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