Before me stood only a few–
Second step up, paint can and brush,
High above the entry way, up where no one would look,
Except we few painters, every generation or two.
I am a chosen one, honored to stand in this place, the air still, dusty with time —
adding a new color to the layers of time.
Those who came here before me —
Their paint splattered fingers on mine, gripping the brush,
whisper bits of history to me in the hot afternoon air.
Some sixty years ago, the painter before me dreamed with turquoise,
Covering up the brown of the Depression, and the
Burnt orange of origin, back in 1912.
My turn now, renewal, out of new dreams, an old building.
He, too, thought of this place, its stories, as he dipped his brush.
How it came to be, out of the dreams of farmers and loggers.
A place to dance on a Saturday night,
Seeing friends, and sharing a meal,
Simply being together, maybe falling in love,
Since then, only spiders and a few flies, and dust,
The still air and silence of the old hall, broken by the rumbling of log trucks,
Milk trucks, and cars on the road nearby —
Daily lives, generations lived, driving by the Grange.
The first one, a carpenter, and his helpers —
Farmers, loggers, maybe a store clerk —
Built this place with calloused hands.
Then the painters, each standing where I am, brush in hand.
Their voices now, in the stillness:
My turn now, to be its steward.
Standing on the second step, history in the layers,
I am number five,
Each one writing the same poem,
Hoping I’d show up
With fresh paint.
—Neal Lemery, August 6, 2018