Puritas Springs Park
When I walked there
among so many silences, the ties
of the Cyclone lay strewn
about beneath leaves like the ribcage
of a squirrel or the fossil
skeleton of some dinosaur
that hadn't yet been discovered
pressed into the sediment
of the hillside. The woods,
climbing out of the river valley,
had reclaimed the midway.
The last time that coaster launched
riders screaming over the lip
of the cliff, Sputnik II
blipped above the tract houses
to the west, above the Nike missile sites
ringing the city, and Laika looked
down with the eyes
of a mild, minor angel.
The fire that closed the park
showered ash on the river.
The wide eyes and flared nostrils
of the carousel's hand carved horses
flashed out at the firefighters,
pure terror frozen
in time. When I wandered
between the trees and down
the ridge, the quiet kept
its own counsel. I shouted once
to disturb that stillness
as if the ground had dropped
away beneath my feet
at the beginning of our new
atomic age. A pale echo answered.
Dusk took root, grew, and clung
to the cliffs. Whatever I had wanted
to find was not there. In that place,
this absence had a palpable presence.
The bones of the old coaster
seeped into the hill.
Satellites travelled solitary paths
above it all, signaling us,
who must find our way over hard ground.