The old road was just the same
How it bended as he went up the hill
The church was still there, the sign
Bearing the title of this Sunday’s sermon
The graveyard still dotted with the flowers
From Memorial Day.
This had not been his church
But he knew people who were buried here
Little Mike Thompson, died in the fifth grade
From a leukemia they could surely treat now.
Mrs. Robbins, who died not five years ago
Ninety-one then, and still getting around
She taught the other second-grade class
Back in his day.
But when he topped the hill and looked
Down to where the schoolhouse had stood
All was changed. The building gone
The schoolyard completely overgrown
No longer defined.
He parked and walked into the brush and weeds
Looking for vestiges: a shingle, board or block
A fragment of a blackboard or sink
But nothing, no sign of Frazier Elementary
Gone now these thirty years.
He knew this was coming
But had not predicted, had not understood
How he would feel: this empty
Ready almost to cry
Why was this place holy?
There was no long-lost love
To pine or wish for
No lifelong friend in the grave
No beloved teacher to miss
He walked further in
And waited and let his mind run
And he found the place, just the spot
Where his desk had been
Where he looked out of the long window
At the great tulip poplar tree in bloom
Still there, its trunk now a massive column
Then he knew:
This is the place where I first dreamed.