Along the Finger Lakes

The past here seems always present;

winters piled on one another

like snowbanks weathered into

graying clapboard where every

third house seems for sale.

But look how the backyards

face to silence of cold,

clear water that laps and licks

at the smooth-stoned shore

or how the unlined county roads


that have no names save for

their number, and along the graveled

shoulders, signs announce vineyards

while a splintering hay-barn once

abandoned, now offers antiques


to eager tourists. And how at noon

the streets of this refurbished town,

all wine shops and boutiques,

scone bakeries and espresso bars

will be filled, the sidewalks


a traffic jam of people with money

and happy to spend it, but now

how just after dawn all is deserted

save for the seat-yourself diner,

the last building along the dead-end


street that empties onto some farmer’s

field, its unchanging menu written

in Magic Marker on a board,

the waitress serving straight-up coffee

poured from Maxwell House carafes,


milk, no half-and-half, sugar

from glass-filled dispensers

with lip-shaped metal spouts

and pies under the glass so good

you could find them in the dark.


Richard Luftig is a former professor of educational psychology and special education at Miami University in Ohio, now residing in California. He is a recipient of the Cincinnati Post-Corbett Foundation Award for Literature, and a semi-finalist for the Emily Dickinson Society Award. His poems have appeared in numerous literary journals across the United States and internationally.

Photography by Julie van der Wekken.