Thursday, June 23, 2011

Monson Two Weeks After the Tornado

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.