The old man sits
in a wooden chair
tilted back against the red bricks of the post office.
I think he may be a fossil,
one with the cement below and the bricks behind.
Or maybe he’s a
Pinkerton for this museum
five blocks long and tailing into hardpan at either end.
Someone needs to keep an eye on memories
that blow like wind jangling the metal hasp against the flagpole
next to the
grammar school that taught children,
how to be farmers and secretaries
who could name the first three presidents
and the planets when Pluto was still in vogue.
watches the Fourth of July parade,
ghosts of high school strutters in sequined bathing suits,
all stutter-stepping out of time to the boys,
their lungs not big enough bellows
to produce the
holiday oompahs from the tubas
they wrestle with, round, brass bells
twisting and dipping because the band is overwhelmed
while batons soar into the sky end over end
in a failed
attempt to escape small town life.
As for the students, who would want to leave
the dry goods store, the five and dime,
or the blinking traffic light, forever amber,
that beats the
pulse of the town, pop. 426?
Tumbleweed rolls down the street on cue
from an invisible director shouting through a megaphone
to start the scenes or cut them down to size.
High above, a
satellite looks over its shoulder
at the pulsar, forever amber, spinning from the collapse
of all life, the fusion of this Midwestern gem
having lost its fuel a few decades before midnight.
The old man
rises from the chair and goes inside.
He is alive after all.
Or maybe he is one of many angels
who guard the blinking graves of Main Streets
strewn throughout the galaxies.
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