In August, in upstate New York,
summer turns sullen.
Blacktop highways sticky as licorice.
Red earth cracked like an old farmer's hands.
One by one they left the high stone house
of their ancestors.
One by one entering the graveyard tottering
downhill behind the Ransomville Lutheran Church.
I wasn't one of them, I escaped early.
I never believed.
I don't believe anything anyone has ever told me.
I wouldn't believe even you if you swore to me
the deepest truth of your tinsel heart.
© 1995 by Joyce Carol Oates
Joyce Carol Oates of Princeton, New Jersey, has most recently authored the novel What I Lived For (Dutton), The Perfectionist and Other Plays (Ecco Press), and, under the pseudonym Rosamond Smith, the psychological suspense novel You Can't Catch Me (Dutton).