Hobbs Square, 1955, Worcester, MA
After a photograph of Cecile Aaronson by a Telegram and Gazette photographer
The woman stands at the open window
on the day the heat was to break.
Instead, the air hangs heavy, wet
stockings hung in a shared bathroom.
That day a breeze was to flow
between buildings as crowded as teeth,
even into her store, floor to ceiling shelves
crammed with bolts of cotton and wool.
Instead, water hurries down this narrow street
where no one lives, where no one shops.
The woman looks out into the rain.
She doesn’t expect to be rescued.
The evening paper’s photographer passes by.
She supposes she’d distract him
as old as she is, or weigh him down
as thin as she is. He won’t stop.
She will have to wait at the window.
Not even a run in her thigh-high stockings,
she will pick her way home amid the debris
when the waters depart. No bus, no cab will stop.
She cannot picture Hobbs Square vanishing,
effaced by black, stinking waters.
These buildings, her shop, her bulwark,
the bolts of plaids and seersucker,
all must remain.
In this dream of Kansas,
I scuttled like a fat bug
beneath the wide sky, its thin blue
unimpeded by trees or clouds.
No mountains kept fierce winds away.
There was nowhere to walk.
I’d forgotten all I’d once read,
all I thought I’d know forever.
The scorching wind blew all
traces of my old self away.
Some writers I’d read long ago
could have seen each shade of grass.
One writer had found fossils,
rocks, arrowheads, shards
of pottery, perhaps poetry,
exposed beside highways I sped on,
listening to music that meant nothing,
to talk that meant less
as I returned to my home
that was not home.
Marianne Szlyk lives in the DC suburbs with her husband, the wry poet and prose writer Ethan Goffman and their retired cat. Her poems have appeared in the Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Verse-Virtual, the Sligo Poetry Journal, Bourgeon, Muddy River Poetry Review, Writing in a Woman’s Voice, Mad Swirl, and Spectrum as well as a few anthologies. Her books On the Other Side of the Window and Poetry en Plein Air are available from Amazon and Bookshop.
Image: http://www.cgpgrey.com, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons. Author photo by Alan Gann.