September 14, 2012

poem 324 of a poem a day for 2012

dreaming a hollowed wean

time here
I say to my daughter
is a witness that has been put to sleep
in the coal ash burning under the iron stoves
and chimney-ed laughter of children
buried inside every adult here
somewhere between obligation and the little rituals
that are brought back to life once a year
to be born into the world again
with masks and make-up and limbs
that are articulated like dolls

no one spoke too loudly here
and everyone had blackened palms and fingerprints
and everything was an odd and out of place
puzzle waiting for another piece
this here quaint town I say to my daughter
is not quite in sync with time
not quite passing through all the elements of human desire

it is nearing Halloween and my daughter and I
are driving through New England’s little slices
of macabre old America
you know the kind
the Washington Irving and Nathaniel Hawthorne
rusted iron and cracked clapboard timber diorama towns
filled with secrets and this town
seemed as good as any to repair my car
that had just broken down

there is a red painted community theater
down the street from the repair shop
it has a small stage with velvet curtains
the stage has become a play area for children
scattered with various toys that seem
as if they had just been played with
as we can hear most of the children
sound as if they are outside playing
near this pumpkin patch out back
we can hear whistle screams
and spooky tag names being called

the theater is at the bottom
of a long green grassed hill
with a church and crooked stone cemetery
at its top and I putter around for a few minutes
on the stage’s rickety wooden floor
and watch my daughter play marbles
with some fixed eyed china dolls
and a new found imaginary friend
she tells me this story of this
picture perfect anime rounded eye blond girl
she tells me she doesn’t say much
when adults are around beyond smiling
so as I am there I just look at her playing
when I notice the back door behind the stage is open
and I can see all the little peel-painted white-houses
under the slate gray sky that this town
seems to have been born under

isn’t it all too quiet here I say to my daughter
that there is nothing but eyes here that seem to know
everything we might be looking for
yes, she says, almost as soon as we broke down

we began a road trip from east central New York
a Dad and daughter trip to take pictures of old houses
and communal pumpkin patches
and little churches
we drove over the old roads away from
and off the highway in middle Massachusetts
when the two lane state road led us
into the middle of this town

this town seemed to come up
and slow our thoughts down
seemed to slow itself down
seemed to capture us
seemed to break holes
clear through my radiator
that weren’t there the last time
I filled the gas tank in southern New Hampshire

there was a stilling silence
as my daughter and I walked beside the patch
and up the hill to the old church and cemetery
and as we did a horde of costumed darth vaders
and stone staring American girl dolls
came running over the hill and past us
and back toward the theater
should we follow them Dad
she asked and I said no
let’s watch from here
and sure enough they began disappearing
one by one by the time they reached
the stage’s backdoor
as if life itself in this town was all hollow
and weaning back to some unseen womb
back to where life is in the circle of four seasons
coming to a standstill plump as a pumpkin
and full of seeds waiting
for the carve of strangers
to bleed some of their life
back into its very old bones



  1. I'd give anything to hear you read this x

  2. chimney-ed laughter of children
    buried inside every adult here
    somewhere between obligation and the little rituals...smiles...all too familiar...and thanks for taking us on the little trip with you and your the slowing down in the town...small town life def does that for me as well and it is certainly refreshing....the carve of strangers....really cool closure on this....

  3. Very sweet poem - that traveling together is so pleasant - even on college trips! It's so nice to go around with one's child. (I live in NYC so disappearing together in a car for a bit is really unusual for us.) Lovely. k.