my parents’ place

forest a river twenty acres of good loam
an old farmhouse a family home
for my parents who backed the war
as if it didn’t sacrifice the poor

i managed the draft as a reserve medic
six years of moments in a blood river
of wounded questioning everything
we ever wanted with the embarrassment
of death of dying of raging of living when
so many others

later with family i visited there
then alone so wife and kids
wouldn’t be shamed for my low income
i’d never pay the taxes at my parents’ place
asked me to leave in a snow storm
when guests were coming

i remember what i love
their skins like petals of hard light
the apple trees breathing by the river
bearing heavy in the fall
ancient gnarled armour
against the ice flows

apple trees more american
than democrats republicans
and variable as the poor
in time-scattered groups of orchard
remaining or standing alone at
the edge of a field
broken with age
still alive

the apple trees that could shelter in their arms
children from death

John Bart Gerald is a poet/journalist living in Montreal. He writes the website concerned with the prevention of genocide. Read other articles by J. B..