Friday, July 22, 2011

Out of Scale

By a small-town green, a warehouse,
four stories huge, bulks like nightmare.
A railroad siding curves to meet it.
Boxcars crouch at big sliding doors.
Half this structure looks abandoned.
Blank windows, crumbled brick

at the cornice. I park to watch
a pair of skateboarders challenge
traffic on the town’s main street.
They leap the grade crossing and clack
past me without a glance. The rails
look dull, flecked with rust. Weeds

strut between the ties. The boxcars
prove this railroad’s still alive, though.
How can children thrive in towns
so cramped and sullen? What happens
if one of them casually browses
through the poetry of Rimbaud?

Luckily the clatter of skateboards
stifles dissent. Luckily
the curve of the railroad siding
limits perspective. The warehouse,
being so out of scale, suggests
how little aesthetic pleasure

one need take in the larger world.
The trees on the green look shy
and apprehensive. Houses shaded
by the warehouse look small enough
to absorb the residue of dreams.
With the skateboarders safely past,

I drive across the railroad and up
the hill, out of town, avoiding
the cop who has stopped a speeder—
blue lights flashing as a woman
with bold red hair declares herself
innocent of time and space.