Mounted police scout for looters.
The big Sunday light explores
the ruins, exposing wires, plumbing,
and pictures face-down in plaster dust.
The ridge where the tornado came down
looks like a badly shaven chin.
Walking the length of Main Street,
I note blue Condemned tags stuck
to almost every standing structure.
The pizza and coffee shops thrive,
however: the motorcycle crowd
and the state troopers expressing
burly appetites by the slice.
I’m ashamed to photograph a scene
so anticlimactic with angst but
a tattooed young woman struts
along in tiny skirt and halter,
so I follow because behind her
I can travel unnoticed. The high school
lost its roof. Opposite, a house
smashed flat, while next door a big
gray Victorian went untouched.
On a rise, the modern gym built
by the academy a few years
before it moved one town away
retains only a steel skeleton.
The school’s oldest brick building
has lost two of its three stories.
The church at the head of Main
cropped its steeple onto its lawn.
I’ve seen too much. The shudder
that passed through this village
still distempers the atmosphere.
The collapsed supermarket groans
like a vampire’s coffin. I turn
back toward my parked car and let
that decorative young woman proceed
without escort, the rubble
of plaster and downed trees coughing up
centuries of history in her wake.