The Lot of Property

James Robinson

James Robinson

The Lot of Property was selected as part of MSU Library Short Edition's call for submissions on the theme of "Home," in coordination with the MSU Broad Art Museum's exhibition "Where We Dwell." James Miller Robinson is a legal/court interpreter of Spanish registered with the Alabama Administrative Office of Courts and serves as an assistant editor of POEM. He has three chapbooks in print: The Caterpillars at Saint Bernard, Boca del Río in the Afternoon, and The Empty Chair. Recent work appears in Maple Leaf Rag 40th Anniversary issue, Coffee Poems: reflections on life with coffee, Best Poets of 2019, and Pensive: a Global Journal of Spirituality and Art.

It is not a lot of property
but rather just one lot of property,
something no one else would want
but we procured from an acquaintance
who acquired it from a previous owner
when the acquaintance lived next door
in a clapboard mill village house
on a street now-paved and curbed
where half the houses
were vacant and abandoned
but maybe still held hope for better times
as the years since the mill closed
and before an investor convinced the council
there was still breath between its looming
brick walls, tall paned windows,
oiled wood floors and over-looming water tower.

There is still a mill village house
on either side of the lot
--one rented to a young couple maybe as poor
but probably not as desperate as mill families were;
the one on the other side undergoing renovation
by another optimistic small investor.

When we cut the grass on what I like to call
"Our Ponderosa," we find the remnants
of the brick foundation that once upheld
a four-room house identical to the others
that lined these blocks of mill village streets.

Occasionally we dig up charred remains
of what must have been a stud or beam
from the small house of a family who came
in search of work and found a job not only
for the father but for the wife and children
who lived crammed together for a time
on this lot of property, now empty,
except for the surrounding fence,
a pecan tree, a fig tree, and a submerged
vault for what was once a septic tank
as useless now as an open grave.

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