John Holcomb and his wife Rosanna
live on a desolate road,
their closest neighbor a quarter-mile away.
The ancient house they live in
is set back from the road
and circled by a wall of evergreens.
The Holcombs, in their middle years,
live austere lives. Children, John said,
got in the way. They work in a local mill
and ride in silence to and from their work.
At night they watch the picture tube
and go early to their beds.
Her parents said she was too young
to marry and John too silent and withdrawn.
But trees around the house were spindly then
and sunlight filtered through the green
and she could see across the road
and off into the blue. She didn't mind
the closing in, it was by slow degrees,
and now prefers the shadow to the sun.
If someone told the Holcombs they live
narrow lives, they wouldn't disagree.
They want life the way it is; it's been
that way so long. And just today,
they did something different
and broke the old routine:
they drove out to the burial ground
and picked their burial plots.