Thursday, November 10, 2005

The Factories of Eden Have Fallen to Ruin

Things were built here once,
pieces now unrecognizable
fragments of rusted metal,
still sharp enough to hurt
through the sole of a shoe
if you don’t walk carefully.

In the heat of this late summer
day, the open and echoing guts
of this place, the lonely shade
of a building fallen to ruin, where
the noise of birds outside and
their strident conversation
seems far away, so that we are
swallowed up inside and
become a part of this disuse,
this quiet, hot, mausoleum
to industry.

And our parents told us to
steer clear of this place, for
fear of cuts and tetanus, for
fear of teenagers with their
stolen cigarettes and bottles
of beer, for fear of the knowledge
of death, not just of people like
uncle Ernie who was pasty
and strange in a box while
the organ played, but of
ways of living, of customs
and lives driven tombward
in the course of time.

But our legs become tired
riding from town to town,
and the wide gravel entrance
at the edge of the two lane
is now shady with wild growth
of softwood trees, and the
still-pungent smell of creosote-treated
lumber hangs in the air on a
warm day, and to we, who are
young, the shine of broken
bottles and the buried treasure
of a corroded ball bearing
the size of a marble is too much
to resist,

And we are pulled in, out the back
and onto the broken remnants of
a concrete loading ramp, now
spray painted with the braggadocio
of high-schoolers and how they
went all the way with a girl named
Jolene, the broken bottles of
Michelob against this wall—

The apple

This hulk of a factory--

the tree of knowledge of good
and evil

And most of all,
mortality, for if the things
we join together and
create by the force of our
labor can find their doom,
it surely means that we are far from
immune.

9 comments:

drthunder said...

Oh yes! Everything apparently has it's day, and everything finally comes to an end. Hopefully, the big businesses that have their finger on the pulses of the masses today, will soon have to face this reality. If we are lucky, we'll leave some ball bearings that are worth searching for.

Stranger Ken said...

This takes me back. I can hear my mother issuing the same dire warnings fifty years ago. Your poem reminds me strongly of some of the stories of Ray Bradbury, which I love, "Dandelion Wine" for example, and teaches me that Proust was right, we are all in search of lost time. There's one line, too, which I shall keep with me always now I've read it: "the still-pungent smell of creosote-treated lumber". Wonderful! There's a poem by Yevtushenko called "Visit", which you may already know and which contains some lines that have the same kind of unforgettable imagery and cadence: "...and the bright yellow butter-balls afloat/in basins made of flower-painted china". He's also talking about re-visiting childhood and its memories, so you're in the very best company.

Bill said...

My parents issued similar warnings as well... it seemed the more they warned us to 'stay away' from a place, the more allure it had!

I've "discovered" many places like the one you described over the years... often I would sit, and wonder about the people who used to be there, working, feeding their families, and where they all went when the place closed.

Nothing is forever, unfortunately, but for me each reminder of that fact is one more reason to enjoy each day as best we can!

Mushster said...

You create the most amazingly vivid imagery for your readers. That was wonderful.

Firehawk said...

Doc,

Thanks for coming over, kiddo. We can always hope for ball bearings...

Ken,

"Dandelion Wine" is a fascinating book. I'm happy that it brought something like that up for you. I haven't read Yevtushenko, but I'll have to look out for him in the future. I'm glad there was a commonality in the poem that made you think of your own past. You do me a great honor by putting such illustrious names in conjunction with my own. August company, indeed.

Bill,

We're always drawn to places we are told not to go. I do think that, as much as getting hurt, our parents want to sheild us from places that hint of the secret histories in our own geography.

I agree with you that life is for living, not being timid. The clear realization that we are all temporary players in this production, our bit parts soon spoken out and forgotten, only makes it more important to grab the moments we have and make the most of them.

Firehawk said...

Mush,

Thanks for coming by. Sorry I didn't get you in the first comment. We must have been posting at the same time, so yours showed up only after I refreshed my comments screen. Anyway, I appreciate the fact that you still come over. Some of my one-time commenters have fallen away.

MB said...

Here via DarkSparks.

customs
and lives driven tombward
in the course of time

...is an interesting thought.

This poem gives a feel of rough nostalgia. A lost Eden, because the hulk of the factory pulls you through and out ... into what is no longer Eden. (If it's the apple, who's the snake?)

Firehawk said...

Moose,

Welcome! Thanks for coming over and making a comment.

As for the snake, I think there never was one. It's just our own curiosity. Some may have differing views, but I wouldn't choose a comfortable ignorance above knowledge, even that which unsettles my mind.

Mushster said...

No problem at all. Just try and stop me from coming back, not a chance hehe.