Ivy Raff

The bad news is not that Henry Ford is dead.
The bad news is that Fairlane, his hulking
estate on the outskirts of
Dearborn is quiet as a nunnery but with none of the sanctity.
Fairlane closed at the start of the pandemic, I learned
both from the signage, printed as generic Word documents and Scotch
taped to the insides of leaden lattice windows,
and from the grounds director, whom I complimented
on the perkiness of the bees sprayed among the amaranthine-flowered courtyards.
The director has a chin-length mouse brown bob and is called Karen Marzone
During lockdown Karen cut staff by half
and now solicits volunteers
Fairlane legally separated from Edsel House
the other Ford property, and can no longer tap into shared resources.
Nonprofit alliances and severances are truly the new feudalism,
political intrigue rife with incestuous backstabbing.
If I repotted enough gardenias and swept
enough pathways of curled-in leaves,
I could get the real tea from Karen Marzone.

But the bad news is,
my father will never see Fairlane’s grounds,
Parkinsonian ocular tremors scrambling his vision
I snapped photos for him, enlarged detailed captures
of shasta daisies and Japanese morning glories, of lacecap hydrangeas
with their petaled and hairy-stemmed complexities,
at the moment the summer turns too warm
the cellular breakdown coded in their DNA and then windswept
by a thousand chaos theories
chinking small diagonal lines on plump pink surfaces going to toast
in the tapering manners
that provide enough shelter for young stranded ants to wait out a rain storm

Impermanence screams at us in Detroit
And we scream back
How quickly we crumble!
How faithfully we build on sand and shadow!
We scream back until our diaphragms bloat up into potential
energy, packed and with nowhere to go,
the no-escape
where we meet ourselves.

Poetry Atlas has many other poems about Michigan.