Only when the gates are rusted shut
and pain flakes from the porch rails,
and thistle has its way
beneath the once-prim hibiscus;
only when the cellar’s been pillaged
and the plumbing gutted,
and no scrollworked hinge or fixture’s
left fastened to the walls—
only then can absence cast its grace
upon windows warping in their frames,
the bared halls and banisters,
and shelves emptied of heirloom silver
So, too, we find a scrap yard’s Babel
of stacked automobiles, or the rice mill
with bins cleared and the sifters auctioned off.
A kind of afterlife, perhaps,
but hardly noticed along roadsides.
See the trailer now swaybacked in a gravel lot
and leaning barns lodged out to swallows.
Not to mention the junked hulls of johnboats
bleached from seasons on riverbanks.
Fair enough that weathers, at last,
collapse each beam and sagging rafter
while chassis go unsalvaged in the fields.
For nothing else but wreckage
could ever bless such a derelict heaven
of dust and sunlight, where things abandoned
lay broken, brittling toward their stripped essentials.
And whatever’s neglected
will inherit the hushed corners of this kingdom,
as winds alone compose the low hymns
for all that’s tarnished and born among the weeds.
from his book Myths of Electricity
Texas Review Press, 2005
used with permission of the poet