A Walk with Robert

Ruddles Cove

Robert?
May I call you Robert?

Of course, that is my name;
better to call me Robert than
Hezekiah, don’t you think?

There used to be a farm here,
gentle, rolling grass, dandelions,
muddy fields and ponds,
a firefly show every June, and
a farmer named Roscoe Ruddle,
an authentic old timer.
He had cows,
and weathered, calloused hands,
and a ready smile.

I like him already.

He let us board our horse here
free.
But he got old.

As farmers are wont to do.

Yes, too old to care for this land alone.
So his kids moved him away,
first the cows, then Roscoe.

As farmers’ kids are wont to do.

And soon he passed.

A farmer’s heart is in the plow and herd—
rip it out and it withers
and dies.

The rolling hills laid fallow a while,
empty barn, empty house on the hill,
fences in disrepair.
It was sad.

There are ghosts on empty farms,
milking spirit cows and walking the fence line,
And maybe woodland sprites, knocking over posts,
and tearing slats from barn doors.

It wasn’t long before a sign went up:
“Coming Soon: Ruddle’s Cove
Quality Estates – 9 sites available.”

With all the farmers
turning over in their graves
around here, it is a small wonder
it doesn’t register as a seismic event.

They tore down the fences,
drained the ponds,
staked out home sites.

Flagellation and bloodletting
and daggers
to the heart of famers’ ghosts.

They paved the long, winding stone driveway,
and planted sod, and left.

Lay the headstone and plant over the grave.
May this farm rest in peace.

I doubt that, Robert.
You see the mini-mansions already built,
the last few under construction,
all sold, most occupied.
Peace fled this land with the roaming deer.

You’re right, of course—
it was just a figure of speech,
something I felt
I needed to say.

I understand, Robert.
Tell me, did you see this in your New England?

I caught a glance, askance,
but I maintained my fences,
kept stone on stone,
good neighbors, and all that.

I remember.

It is hard to stem the tide
of man’s ambition and greed,
with wistful nostalgia of
simpler times.

We’ve lost something here,
something sacred, I feel.
And now there is word
that yet another tract of homes
will go up soon beyond those back woods,
where once we plinked at targets with .22s
without worry.

I still hear the echoing of ricochets.

That would be the rod and gun club,
just up the road, nearly 400 acres of
riverfront property,
where guns still blaze daily.
I don’t even hear those guns now,
after all these years.

I was accused of tuning out
in my day,
and I liked that description.
I had to tune out the noise
to write what I wrote, you see.

I do the same.
But this blight on the land,
has me so distracted,
so altered,
I can’t seem to tune it out.
It violates my rationale
for living here,
the lure of quiet,
remoteness,
that brought us here
nearly 20 years ago.

What will you do?

I don’t know, Robert, I don’t know.

About stevenddorsey

I have been an avid writer for as long as I can remember. I enjoy composing poetry, lyrics, children's books and fiction for young adults. I have traveled the world extensively in my 25+ year career as an International Development professional and executive. I have lived in Europe, Latin America, and Africa. I speak Spanish and French. I married Rachel Miltimore in 1985. We have five children and five grandchildren. We currently live in Manassas, Virginia. We enjoy writing children's books together.
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