5: Franconia

The ski chalet,
a wooden two-story
in Lafayette Acres,
Franconia, New Hampshire,
north of the Notch:
its owners
left it vacant
during the summer.
Someone needed
to look after it,
and so it became
our family’s (rented)
vacation home.

I miss your sights:
Echo Lake,
the Frost Place,
the Hillwinds,
the Grateful Bread,
Polly’s Pancake Parlor
(that’s neighboring Sugar Hill,
but no great matter),
Bishop’s Ice Cream,
the Village Store,
the Dutch Treat.

I had a yellow ten-speed,
handlebars taped sloppily
with feeble masking tape.
I’d ride this bike
from Lafayette Acres,
down Magowan Hill,
past the River Gale,
under the overpass,
up Route 18
to the center of town,
a dozen or so buildings
dotting either side
of the sleepy one-lane road.

I miss the Old Man
who crumbled to earth
some years ago, ’03 it was,
the God-hewn rock-face
on the side of Cannon Mountain.

I even miss the names
of your old-time politicians:
Gallen, Sununu, Gregg.

I miss your thunderstorms
and fireflies. I miss
the drive-in ten miles away
on the road between
Littleton and Whitefield.

I miss being young
and writing elate poems
to your thousand-foot mountains,
mere hills compared to what
other places boast.

I miss being a fidgety passenger
in the back seat
of the ’76 Monte Carlo,
gobbling up the ribbon
of Interstate 93.

I miss the hum
of summer bugs.
I miss the golf courses
where Dad played golf
and I caddied
enduring bad language
when he’d hit one
into the rough.

Franconia, with your dirt roads,
with your rocky River Gale,
with your staid white church—
Our Lady of the Snows—
which I maybe entered once,
you magic’d my childhood,
empearled my adolescence,
and mothered a hundred poems.
And so, this note of thanks.

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