More Than Rumor
after Walker Evans’ Main Street of Pennsylvania Town, 1935
It starts with the ghost of a woman
lying nude on grass in the stoic shade
of a stone doughboy who looks like David.
Back then he stood in the public park
beside the dirty river and not in
this sad circle of flowers dying
in the middle of an intersection,
one edge of the center of town. From
here, the river’s no more than the sound
of hymnals opening in the pause
between the pastor announcing a number
and the organist starting in on
the music. From here, the ghost of
a woman’s breath is no more than rumor.
The implication is loss. We are all
implicated. In the wires
and the accusatory shadows of wires
stretched between buildings, we imagine
acrobats, their second skins aglitter.
Every Memorial Day the soldier,
surrounded by fresh flowers, watches clowns
bringing up the rear of the parade,
laughing and hurling objects that ignite
the smiles of children lining the streets
and dazzle the ghosts of women. Dogma is
no more than rumor some days. Other days,
all the stone soldiers in all the towns
in every state can’t cast enough shadows,
and no clown anywhere is carved of stone.