Monday, July 18, 2022

Night in Wallace

The newlywed couple finds
A room in an old hotel
In the decrepit downtown

Of another one of those
Boom-bust western mining towns
That sprung up quick as mushrooms

In the westward expansion
Before settling down into
Generations of decay.

Having checked in, they wander
Around for something to eat,
Eventually strolling

Into a green neighborhood
Of slowly falling houses,
Eerily quiet, until

Fireworks start going off,
First as isolated pops
They half mistake for gunshots,

Then fizzing from a display
Being shot off on the hill.
They’d forgot it was the Fourth,

But now they happily perch
And cuddle on the cracked steps
Of what used to be a porch,

For the quarter-hour or so
Of gathering dusk it takes
For the small stockpile to go.

A few whoops drift from the hill.
A few more whizzes and bangs
Speckle the dim neighborhood.

It will be some years before
One of the pair, long after
The divorce, will run into

Some lines in another poem
Reminiscent of this one
Night in Wallace, Idaho—

There are sad, almost empty
Towns occasionally
Brightened by fireworks—

Which brings the memory back
Of a dusk not so much sad
As, for that night, contented.

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