Sunday, April 5, 2015

Somersville Mill Pond

This is the second of two poems about Somersville, Connecticut, a village a few miles from where I lived as a child.

Scales of whitewashed asphalt
shingle the worker tenements
shading a few gray scabs of snow.
Wandering to the mill pond where
I fished half a century ago
I feel my tracks smack the mud
with a tiny inaudible lisp.
The silver wind on the water
hacks long herringbones of wave.
It’s too cold to stand here staring
at places too shy to resist the wry
nostalgia I doubt more than death.
The mill burned two years ago.
A cage of girders remains where
the more modern building stood.
Brick walls of the older complex
retain something Classical,
impersonal with great age.
I’d like to prowl along the edge
of the pond to find that distant view
of the Hubbard farm. I admired it
for the litter of farm equipment
that ornamented the barnyard
with Farmall red, John Deere green,
and rust in a hundred subtle hues.
I’d walk all the way to the bridge
where the town constable chased
four drunk teenagers who crashed
into the steel girders and burned
to death, one of them his son.
No one had the heart to concoct
the usual ghost story, and now
it’s too late, a modern concrete bridge
replacing the aged truss-work.
Retracing my tracks to the car
I’m sure the wind will remember
sculpting around me. It’ll leave
a hole in the atmosphere
that will shimmer in my absence
like the ghosts of those teenagers
scarred into the mid-spring dark.

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