The Town Made of Ash
Adult men here will dip cigarettes
Straight into full coffee mugs
To put them out when families
With children walk through diner doors.
You’ll usually spot them there——
Across from the modest Diana Theater
Where three people were murdered
In 1978 while watching Heaven Can Wait:
Main street had a gaping scar
For a year and a half before it was finally paved shut.
Next to your headstone
In a graveyard of marble blocks aligned,
Lies a cornfield with one tree
Reaching its arms up to the sky.
But I keep thinking of ashes——
Floating in black mugs,
While men eat at their hearty breakfasts
Before they head out, to that giant
Farming facility, the county below——where
Everyone knows everyone;
Their little world,
Spinning inside of this one.
An elderly woman sits in the shade of her
Black Walnut tree on her lawn, passing her days
Watching other townspeople go about their lives——
She also knows of ashes and coffee mugs,
And she, like me, is floored when someone
Waves——asks what history she lived.
On the map——
So small, impossible
To find by chance.
One hand wipes off the ash:
A faceless smudge——
All that lies beneath it.