The Gazebo at the Park
The asbestos-roofed gazebo,
painted freshly red each summer
by Boy Scout Troop number 22,
stands taller than even the oak tree
that Mesquite Bend Class of ’22 planted,
the ground everywhere cast in yellowed grass
and sand that goes on forever.
In October, the Zimmermans gather,
seven generations of blonde-haired beauties
and men with hands as thick as meat slabs.
For four days, they circle the gazebo
with RVs and pop-up tents, badminton sets
and tournament Monopoly.
Niles Zimmerman, reigning elder, holds
court in his ancient fold-up chair,
centered under the gazebo. Babies
and graduating grandchildren fly
before him, each receiving Niles’
offered shiny quarter like a blessing.
The women rule the barbecue pit
in the park’s North corner, their recipe
contests legendary. Only Nana’s Pie,
a coconut cream confection they have passed
down for centuries, claims the role
of undisputed champion.
Even though the loudest sounds
for four days are the triumphant
giggles of the grand bingo winner,
Mesquite Bend heaves a sigh
as RVs and tents and Monopoly boards
roll away from the one park
the town calls its own,
the empty gazebo an ever-present promise
of that which passes from us and yet
must be filled.
April 7, 2015