The east side of the farm pond out back
was lined with small birches like a picket fence.
Its sides were walls of alders and willow,
and the west side faced the timothy field--
a perfect scene for the decade of photos
I took of my son as he grew--catching frogs,
skating on its warted, shoveled surface.
No need to crop that perfect container,
a shoebox diorama with its pond just broad
and deep enough to hold a father’s memories.
Last spring after church, the old man who’d sold me
the place thirty years ago confided he’d hired
his troubled son to dig that pond, and had spent
most of a long summer winching him out
of the muddy hole as he’d get stuck,
the mouth of the red loader bucket turned up
from the pit’s bottom like a feckless grin.
I turned the talk to the harvest’s prospects
and the weakness of the coffee we shared:
one man pained by memories of pulling his child
from the same spot another keeps placing his,
at that same hay field in Unity, Maine.