A House for Names

a single vine
splits a storefront wall
crawls up the shutterless window
where the Alabama wild grass
displays a faded brochure

next to the Piggly Wiggly
in the parking lot of
the old bank
that is now a museum
a minivan pulls in slow
a family slides the door open
steps out
is glad to see us
is glad to see that we are open

though we are not
we let them in
we let them inside
because inside the museum
in the center

is a universe of names etched in terrazzo
and the family finds among the names their own
and the children don’t cry
but the universe is a well
the women steady themselves

throughout the south
trees shed branches in shame
whole buildings converted
to houses for names
the sidewalk is cracked
where there is a sidewalk

where there is none
those who stayed behind
to tend the gardens
make do

Poetry – Published in Union Station Magazine, 2014