Changes around here

I

Where a clear shot across the field once led to the Helfand shed
Some low-slung gray hanger sprang into commerce.
Eighteen wheelers rankled the cement all day and night, in and out a dozen portals.
Then it was a long time empty, flaking toxic whimpers, until blasted into a cadmium powder.
Now there sits a different development
Where Pakistani, Vietnamese, Sudanese carry spiced plastic bags from quiet driveways to indistinguishable box homes.
The shed, just saggier, still marks its station by the pond.
Fewer short-cuts to the tackle store after all the fences put up.

If I walked over, it would be see whether any sumac popped back up after thirty years.

II

I was 15 maybe 16 I noticed
The cars started to accelerate.
Patience in daily life had been whittled.
Controversy swaggered over the curbs.

It’s best now not to talk to anybody
Unless by repeating what was said last week.

III

Heading to the center for milk or cigarettes
I knew every pothole before the town raised funds
for a sand mix asphalt made the street spanking new
and the store took cigarettes off the shelves.
Garcia no longer hangs out at Kobi’s, but some ever-chlorinated facility,
His ears tongue eyes sharp as ever so it’s claimed.

There’s a silence that passes living knowledge on the thoroughfare.

IV

We relied on our Briggs & Strattons to discipline our turf.
Mrs. Hady pampered her roses and gardenias,
But when Hanima moved in she went for native plants.
No smoke columns from leaf burnings waft the autumn skies
But more from outdoor grills.

You can’t smell anything anyway in today’s compromised air.

V

When the phone rang, everyone used to bolt to where it hung,
Ready as an icon to prophesy.
We hungered for the attentions of the boys and girls up the hill,
Even more for the far-off relatives who paid good coin for banter.

Then the lines frayed.
There hasn’t been a phone on the wall for decades
And soon won’t be a phone on the counter either.

And no one calls anymore but the fraudulent policemen’s association anyway.

VI

The veterinarian treats parakeets and cats, maybe a horse once a year.
The blacksmith became a hardware store.
Then the old building housed a cable station.
Now the storefront promises holistic centering.

Although I always thought we already had a center, by living here.

VII

Milhoun never checked his jetty at the river.
Our young nights tottering on consciousness—
Fat pig burgers, giggles peeing excess beer.
When did the jetty get pulled down?
No one knows who dumped the oil barrels in the shallows.
High-intensity street lamps came in.
Whoever cleaned up the place charges five dollars entry for a proper beach.

Head down with me sometime.
See the changes around here.

This poem was published in the inaugural issue of WhimsicalPoet, February 2021.

Andy Oram
June 2, 2020