Old Purposes

Careful: step out into the not-quite-street.

It used to be a swamp, and sunk boar, pushed

roots into the air, and stank, and free


from old purposes still it tries to take

you in. This parking lot is where the gash

of a hill once stood. Breathe slow. Speak


short sentences. No knowing when the earth,

so rich and red, might fill a lung. And rushing

past us, silent now, the houses, mirthful,


cackling with flame just thirty years ago.

Nearly done. Why have all the fishes

disappeared? This pavement used to glow


with them, the yearning of a sea grown thin

from lack. Now, trust the surf, how it washes,

come, the crowd is surging, let us swim.