on the road to sullivan

On the road to Sullivan: a red barn in a grove of trees. An opera house for orphans was once beyond the barn, my father tells me. Wouldn’t you want to give them something no one else can have? Their own opera house. Late 1800’s thinking. Now there is no Sullivan. No more orphans. What remains: the barn; the foundation of the opera house; and the stories of his grandmother living in an orphanage fifty miles from where her father was farming and mining– remarried, fathering more kids.


Below the one-lane bridge, a red-faced vulture. We think of them, these vultures, as angry men looking for another soap-box, but this one–in sweet clover banked along a stream–is calm. Undisturbed. The angry man sleeping in the back of his family’s church.


I brake for birds, my daughter warns, so we agree to take the back road. Now that Sullivan is gone, we aren’t in a rush to get there. We have time for birds.


A rare pleasure to get out of town. Away from hands reaching out for him. Anchors or weights? Today, he doesn’t have to decide. The S-curve between Shay Road and Sonny O’Grady’s farm reminds him of freer times dirt-biking high plains in Eastern Oregon. His first broken arm.  Never ride through a tumbleweed that isn’t tumbling, he advises. I laugh. He flexes his arm and smiles back.


And I brake for Eggs For Sale signs. Most of the time, no one is home. Dare I walk out into this farm yard? I do.

I find the farmer and he has things to teach me. And I am eager to learn: Mille Fleur chickens–their color gets better with age; The gentle giant, the Buff Brahma, has laced hackles and is tightly feathered. But I’m sold on the runner ducks. It’s true–they do not waddle, the farmer laughs.

We walk across the rutted yard, chickens pecking and runner ducks watching from the shade, to retrieve a carton of eggs in the root cellar beyond the quiet of his red barn.






About redmitten

author of Cracking Geodes Open, Making Good Use of August, and The Peppermint Bottle. poetry editor for IthacaLit. website: https://toomuchaugust.wordpress.com

4 responses to “on the road to sullivan

  1. Perfect timing, Sherry. Afraid I’ve fallen behind here, having been distracted waging war against what is rather than embracing the way things are. I’d have saved all concerned much grief had I spent my time here with you, who lives so richly inside what the moment offers up. You make the farmer’s chickens sound like gods in their laced hackles and armor-tight plumes. Those eggs you bought might be magic! PS, the summery burst of warm weather we had here in mid-March woke up the lilacs too soon, as it happened. What followed was all rain, much of it raw, which yielded a thin crop of blossoms that make small bouquets, though all the more fragrant for being so sparse. Cheers, Tim

    • redmitten


      you are poet. see?: “what followed was all rain, much of it raw.” a stirring metaphor. this takes me places, with your lilacs as a starting point. here, it seems the bush beside my house, blossoming above the painter’s ladder (it is not my ladder. it belongs to either the roofer or the painter from last year- neither of whom want to come back and retrieve it)isn’t sure it wants to waste all its color at once. i want to think it is pacing itself so there’ll still be blossoms in june. i also don’t understand the wars we wage- hard to know when to wage and when to embrace. i watch the runner ducks in the farmer’s yard and think about how long it took them to accept their lack of flappable wings. sherry

  2. kmerrifi

    May I have one over easy with a side of sweet memories?

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