It would be really, really nice if the operating website didn't screw up all the formatting. While it's hideous and gross, the only way I can make sure the stanzas don't bunch up is by putting horizontal lines between the stanzas. Sorry about that.

This is partially uploaded to see who's still here.

"In Their Place"

by Rb

"Let's go for a drive," his parents say.

"We'll give you the grand tour."

So we pile into the creaking car,

Mom and Dad up front bickering over routes.

He and me in the backseat, fingers kneading.

They drive us to their landmarks,

Old houses, thinning forests, country roads newly-paved

Frozen river ravines, shores of the lake

All the while talking to and with and over

Each other's stories.

What they say: "This is where we grew up,"

In an itinerary half-history, half-indoctrination.

"This is where our family has been.

Isn't it beautiful?"

"Yes, yes," I reply, wishing I sound

As sincere as I feel.

What they don't say:

"Love it here.

Don't take him away.

Make the next generation, and the next

And each one afterwards

Be at home on Michigan soil.

Take care of him,

Even when he leaves us."

They are imprinted in this earth which they fear

Will be forgotten without witnesses

Without memories.

"Tell me more," I say. "Tell me."