Self as Suburban Ruin
for Cynthia Atkins
Yes, and the usual flaking leaden paint, shards
crunching underfoot, fetid puddles, leaked-out pipes.
And papers? Did someone say reams?
Bad dream of a cottage industry—
all the old molds and dies left tilting on the tables
curating the storied dust. Turn your flashlight
toward the rafters, corroded model train tracks,
some heat-damaged fright of a baby doll
the older siblings left for dead. Watch your step,
there’s flooring missing, pink insulation
like a punctured pillow’s escaping fluff.
Dangerous stuff. Must be where the uncles
fell through the cracks. Best head down to the
lower levels, where an intact pencil sharpener
juts from the stairwell. Pause for a moment,
in fond recall of our first essential mechanical tool.
Here’s the realm of lost labors and amusements,
and mildew—mother’s foe, a deep concrete sink
with washboard built in, and broken-off swing chains.
Linoleum buckled like pulled taffy, clear evidence of flooding.
Shh. . . what’s that rattle? Webs have rebound a bin
of loose venetian blind slats, and a blurred, cracked
blackboard against the wall appears erased in haste.
Shiver me timbers who used to say?
Among the rags with hardened folds left hanging
on large hooks, find a handkerchief wrung clean
of its tears. In situ: for undetermined years.
Grab it! It’s time that we got out of here—