An artless photo of a picnic table
fresh from builder’s saw and nails
sits freckled by sun in shade amid
a grove of stunted turkey oaks

Years and miles from a homestead
made melancholy by this image —
meals eaten there, burn pit bonfires,
solstice pinatas and songfests
amiable like warm oak smoke
on a chill breeze –ghosts with
digitized voices on plastic discs.

Pine planks form an altar trestle
where friends and pets gathered
to sit below the sandy hillside.
Where residue of four-leg family
rest with collars and squeaky toys.
Bones face sunrise as honored
dead should.

Another photo of a long haired
Aussie shepherd and I seated
atop the picnic table, the table
where he chose to climb and sit,
my arm draped embracing
his arthritic frame, dog
and I joined in a stationary
moment of equilibrium.

When we left the turkey oak
groves the picnic table reverted
to its carpenter to honor
extended and invited families,
cooks and musicians sharing–
warm green bean casseroles
sweet iced tea lemonade
fried chicken slabs of ham
potato salad sweet potato pie–
its legs sunk in different sand
surrounded by frolicking dogs
peaceful folk circling songs
under live oak’s green shade.