The town has been so long gone
there at the side of the quiet river
the factory wears rust. Sidewalks empty.
A dead bird turned to a skeleton.
Uncle Sam’s Gas is on the skids.
The weeds are growing over.
A heron walked long legs in the plot.
So many houses have broken windows
where people whispered out.
A car scrapes by, taped together.
That was when they swept in. Like a dream
in their white limousines. They got out and
started to unwind tape measures.
A couple men watched from the doorway
in the Avalon. All the windows above are dark
along the block but a few eyes looked out.
It was hard to tell, there were reflections.
They walked their yellow tape round the blocks
past houses, boarded shops, the cracked gray stream
of mainstreet. Then they got back in their long cars
After some silence, the doors opened and those eyes
came out. The tape rattled like a snake in the wind.
It had words on it. You had to get close to read.
Sold, in black letters, Sold, spelled every three feet.
For the next couple days the rumors grew and flew
inflated as a zeppelin tied down to the town.
Still, nobody knew what the strangers would do
until the barges arrived on the river. Then,
it was as if Noah himself had returned, peeling
away from the land in ones and twos everything
that had value to The American Museum.
This poem is from Bowl of Water
(Bottom Dog Press, 2004)
photos from our garden this morning