they will all come home. wars will be declared insolvent—or won—and the wars will end. big families will begin again. they will run up no debt. houses will be expanded. sugar will be rationed. balloons and bubblegum will be available only on the black market. they will cut down trees for building and burn brush in the fireplace and grow corn, tomatoes, beans. they will buy 15 cent bread and make their own beer. milk will be delivered to their door in glass bottles for ten cents, a truck will come up from the river every third day to stock the iceboxes, and the rag man will pass by once a week shouting RAAAAGGGS in an attempt to get them to discard their sopping up cloths. they will search for jobs up and down the Mississippi. they will not drive cars. they will walk from Minnesota to Wisconsin and it will take many days before they reach the place of safety they call home, which was never their home but felt like it, there among the corn fields and the corn cobs and the waving tassels and the spinning windmills, a shingled log cabin with room built on for them by the men. they will walk to town, unless they get a lift from a farmer who keeps a truck just for hauling hogs. they will bury their dead in a nearby pasture. they will make pies from green apples gathered before they hit the ground. the children will live beside grandmothers and great grandmothers who will teach them to knit, crochet, and sew, while their mothers spend weeks in the kitchen canning vegetables for the winter and their father walks five miles each way to the farm where he earns a dollar a day working dawn to nightfall in the August sun. They will lay five abed at night and repeat stories of what the old folks have described as "the good times," which sound like fairy tales. They will vow undying fealty and such bonds will last even as the deepening crisis spreads like a vacuum across the land their parents thought would never let them down.
in the old port
on all the pilings