Polly Brown
Family Wealth

               When lightning struck the barn
that had been his father’s pride—when the cows
       and all but two work horses perished—

               most of the family capital went up
in smoke. And when fire spread to the house
       where his grandmother raised him,

with its fine dark furnishings, white porch,
               all the shining gifts sent for the wedding
       lost and gone—the polish and ease

               that had made him a leading man
vanished. Facing such loss—with no insurance
       then—he might have gone to work in town,

               let his land grow up to weeds. ‘No,’
she said, ‘Here.’ So he brought his bride
       home to the hired man’s house downhill,

       and they started over. That’s where she fed
donuts to chickadees come to her palm.
               That’s where they stood with my father

       in his new uniform, for a family portrait
               before he went to war. Where Grandpa
       knelt before each meal, to give thanks.