Dwelling on Decay

on my pm walk
most often the same walk
it’s mid-October
white flowers grow
between the railroad tracks
and rotting ties
a pair of small yellow butterflies
flit among these autumn blooms
(what nectar will they find)
more of the same by the river
my riparian heart
its overgrown banks
weeds and vines
obscuring the view
when suddenly from the grass
on the other side of the path
a large hawk
startled perhaps
takes flight
makes its way to a tree’s
interior limb
then flies off again
powerful flourish of wings
that carry it
across the river

turning toward home
between the vacant lot
and the truck rental buildings
to the abandoned
newspaper distribution
center a lone beer bottle
stands by a dying tree
on the other side
of the chain link fence
on the parking lot
weeds flourish
between cracks in the macadam
but across the street
the barbell factory
keeps busy (remember
the tannery one block north
torn down a few years ago
a few bricks remain
where once men earned
a good if hard living
our receptionist Maureen’s
common law husband
worked there
they would take lunch together
Maureen overweight tempestuous
her emotional center
always on the move)

I thread my way
by the rec center
the basketball handball
roller blade courts are quiet
then I turn left
to go up Franklin
and pass by the Cabrini
Academy (parochial elementary)
it has closed
and is being demolished
the early evening sky visible
through the gaps in the walls
across Franklin
Borelli’s Bar still goes strong
always dark inside
the door open or closed
day or night
you can get anything in there

at least that’s what Maureen used to say

Michael Schiffman