- Where it Was
Mysterious moments sometimes occurredAfter great rains. OnceA snake hung looped from a branchNear the pasture stream.The ditches ran with yellow waterFoaming at drop-offs. OnceAt sundown,The sun came out so low, so searching,It sent us scurryingTo give dead insects decent burial,Set playhouses in order.
Where it Was
for Nathaniel, Ross, and Heather
Go south on the old highway,Turn toward Mt. Zion Church and the river,Bump over the railroad track at the top of the hill,Woods on the left,Another mile and a half or maybe two,But well before the crossroads,Over to the right, set backIs where Great-Grandpa Thompson’s house once stood.My mother pointed toward it when we passed.A graveled yard, a well, a frame house,Barn, crib, pigpen—The usual. The wife and mother died;He married her widowed sister. [End Page 589]
A big family, coming and going,Their stories mostly lost, the place remembered.Who else still living now knows where it was?I alone have lingered here to tell thee.
Go toward Cottonville,Past the small church, over the creek bridge,Two miles on, perhaps, where the trees end,Look left, up a slight rise—It’s where Zack Wallace used to live.Lived with his second wife, her children (his all dead),Sometimes his single grandchild, Grandpa Ross.Lived there, got drunk,Harbored a fugitive slave as best he could,Jumped in the pond one night to quiet the frogs,His hair “white as a goose,” my father said.Who else still living now knows where it was?I alone have lingered here to tell thee. [End Page 590]
Jean Ross Justice died in Iowa City last March at the age of ninety-one.