We were drawn that way at a young age on the main line
West from St. Louis to the Columbia spur North to Moberly
Where our grandparents picked us up at the station
And showed us the quarry behind their house on Gilman Road,
Warning us not to try to jump off the edge of the cliff
With an umbrella the way Uncle Robert had.
Our mother had traced our blood to Squire Boone, Daniel’s brother.
It coursed through our father’s veins when, as a 16-year-old
With a summer job on the railroad, he fought to get the cinder
Out of the tracks that blocked the switch as the 12:05 bore down on him.
Sixty years later his grandsons spin the wheels of their three speeds
On the gravel path above the wide brown river, sweating
As their knees pump on pedals their feet have out-grown.
We stay at a bed and breakfast on the bluff, walking down
To Dutzow for the Friday night fish fry. Back on our bikes
On the Katy Trail the next morning, stopping along the way
To swing on the vines and poke our heads in the caves,
Racing the last mile to the marker in front of the Boone Homestead.
Sally Van Doren is the author of Possessive (LSU Press 2012). Sex at Noon Taxes (LSU Press 2008) received the Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets. She is a curator for the St. Louis Poetry Center. website • contact