Linda Viviane Lester

They all raised me, made me who I am, the better me,
my grandfather, my grandmother, the Ranch.
My grandparents looked like grandparents were supposed to look,
but the Ranch was paradise.

A paradise surrounded by a burning, scorching hell populated by
Angels disguised as trees too tall for me to see the tops of,
Cottontails who mowed the lawns at night,
their eyes lit like stars when they looked toward me at twilight,
Thorned mesquite mazes of playhouse rooms
waiting to be arranged by my imagination,
And a pool so cold from artesian flow, I was baptized anew with each plunge.

Papa is dead. Nana is in a nursing home.
The Ranch, structures, trees, pyracanthas, all to be bulldozed in a week.
No homeless will trespass according to my father.
He has the money now, but will let nothing of charity remain.

I dig up a rose bush gone wild.
I search for one last arrowhead,
one shard of broken china once in Nana’s kitchen,
still buried in the trash heap on the far side of the levy.
I etch my mind with all the images I can while there is still light.
I leave through the gate, on the dirt road I walked daily to and from school.

Later my life in shambles, I want to hurt myself more than I can bear.
I want to die. I will. I drive toward the Ranch.
I will see it gone, destroyed, the worst hell I can imagine.
I’m a mile away. I stop. I can’t confirm that it is gone.

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