The parking lot was overrun with weeds
when we walked from the motel in St. Louis.
There were cars that looked cracked under the
persistent morning sun, and I imagined each rock I saw
and each stump I passed, that pierced through the
forgiving asphalt, had a face and a name better than mine.
I'd never been to the Midwest, and there were a thousand stories
I'd made up for years. I wanted to drink in the urban prairies. I wanted to see vast lawns and flower beds so orderly and sparse, it would make me
homesick for a house I'd never smelled. I wanted to see hand written diner-signs
advertising chicken dinners with sides. The streets would be faint
and they would forget you too early. I did see some of the tall empty buildings, and how they leaned from the pressure of time,and more than once I saw structures with broken out windows, affording views through another window, and so it would go until I
was stuck with a framed horizon that wasn't mine.
We don't have decaying large cities in the west.
We've got forgotten towns and fields whose ghosts peer out
at you from the trees and grass covered tombstones.
Long boarded-up roadside cafes on the way to places
like Fairfield and Riggins and Horseshoe Bend tell you
to keep moving towards the cities and the water, and to leave them alone to their still-life playing it's self out quietly in the shift of clouds over foothills and prairies.
They don't need you, and they'll forget you long before you forget them.