By Christopher Brean Murray
Featured art: United States National Museum Photographic Laboratory
At the edge of town, you pass a water tower beside train tracks.
A shopping cart blocks your path.
The telephone poles have no wires.
Someone has spray-painted Fuk Yo on the train station.
A breeze bathes your face
as seed pods click overhead.
How long’s it been since you sat in a theater?
The marquee says JAWS, but the ticket booth’s empty.
The jewelry store says: 40% off weeding rings.
Brass clips clink against the flagless pole.
The library is a house that’s rumored to be haunted.
The librarian recounts tales of the first settlers’ deaths.
She’s seen books flung from shelves,
a woman at the bottom of a staircase.
You pass a garage where mechanics yammer.
At the nursery, a sprinkler douses the curb, leaving shrubs parched.
A Corvette peels out in a mini-mart parking lot.
Smoke drifts over storefronts.
At the Dairy Queen, a woman buys cones for kids.
She snaps at them, but they remain buoyant.
At the football field, boys run plays.
The potbellied coach shouts, “Let’s see some hustle!”
Cheerleaders practice a coquettish dance.
A middle-aged man watches them—the principal?
Past the ShopRite, the family restaurant, the drugstore,
the graveyard’s as quiet as moss on stone.
Weather has worn away some names and dates.
Vandals have defaced a magnate’s bust.
As a child, you wondered about what’s underground.
Decaying uniforms from the Revolutionary War.
A soil-streaked skeleton, ring still on its finger.
One plot is new, the sod is fresh.
Christopher Brean Murray’s poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Cimarron Review, Conduit, Copper Nickel, Epoch, Grist, Poet Lore, and Quarterly West. He is originally from New Jersey but now lives in Houston.
Originally published in NOR 28