“Abandoned,” photograph by Eric Stone, 2012.

Centralia

We are trespassers, all of us tourists
seeking out this almost ghost town
where the residents can be counted
on one hand.

Beneath this place, a mine fire
rages—a seam of coal set alight
in the sixties, projected to burn
for hundreds more years.

We find Graffiti Highway,
a mile-long stretch of abandoned
asphalt hot under our sneaker soles.
Its pavement is painted with names
and dates, foul language and drawings,
and also patches of beauty for the sky
to admire.

Former driveways dead-end at forests;
gravel trails snake through woods.
Brambles snag my shirt as we stumble
upon blazing campfires and see beer bottles
perched atop rock cairns, stained blankets
spread over the soil. Someone has begun
to reclaim this space, just as nature
grasps it with green-vine fingers.

A house in town, once nestled
among many, now stands vacant,
not yet razed. Vandals toppled
cemetery headstones, but no one
has defaced this dwelling.
It is near pristine while waiting
for an owner who will not return.
A snowman figurine smiles
from the window, greeting
gawkers in mid-summer.

*
With Fox Stealth

While we starve,
the Rhode Island Reds
next door grow
fat, scratching
at the dirt, filling gullets
with ticks, ants, and grubs.

Moonlight guides
us to the henhouse.
Our bony
hands seize plump
bodies and we flee, coated
with feathers and shame.

carriage.2

M. Stone is a bookworm, birdwatcher, and stargazer who writes poetry while living in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in SOFTBLOW, Calamus Journal, Amaryllis, and other print and online journals. She can be reached at writermstone.wordpress.com.