Their Secret Lives

We drew back the curtains

on old stained photographs,

lingering long and languid

like a Southern sunset.

It was a prairie color,

Turn-Of-The-Century Red

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,

but boy,

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

silently cheered,

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.


HG -2017

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