COTTAGE COUNTRY, MICHIGAN
It hasn’t rained in weeks.
The farmhouse lawns are crisp,
ground-cover wilted, roadside grasses khaki.
The trees are second growth. Newaygo’s forest
rebuilt Chicago after that incident
with Mrs. O’Leary’s milk cow.
Since then, it’s burned, been hunted hard,
prospered briefly, aged badly.
Nicest building in White Cloud? The welfare office.
North of town, M-37’s lined
with rusted trailers where someone
tries to make a life,
sharpen chain saws, style hair
take care of kids, sell bait.
Everything’s for sale. Houses, boats,
jet skis, snowmobiles. The kids
go off to college or the Navy.
They don’t come back.
On Birch Grove trail, the red pines sway,
scent the light breeze
while oak leaves tremble slightly.
I walk the swamp path, my progress announced
by frogsplash, sudden rustle as
a whitetail’s rump flashes across the ferns.
The bears are coming back.
We hear coyotes howl at night.
There are rumors of cougars.
Patrick Cook has been published in both print and online journals. He lives in Grand Rapids MI with his wife Valorie. “I’ve always wanted to be a writer, going so far as to name my only daughter Flannery, after Flannery O’Connor.” He is a retired postal worker who writes poetry, fiction and essays. He may be reached at email@example.com.