I must have just missed a parade—
horse droppings and hard candy
in the road, miniature American
flags staked into the grass, plastic
chairs lining the curb down this
two-lane highway, 36 in the open
country, briefly Main Street in town.
When I was small, I sat on a curb
only a dozen miles from here, my feet
in the ashtray-dirty gutter, and watched
stars-and-stripes girls wheeling
their batons, slicing the sun-dumb
air into streamers. I can still hear
the click of cellophaned candies
on pavement. I didn’t want to
leave town, not then, and I never left.
I am not a parade, my one car passing
through Centerburg, Ohio, too late.
The chairs are empty. The children
are unwrapping golden butterscotches
in the cool, shuttered houses.
But look up—the clouds are stories
tall, painted above Webb’s Marathon,
and flat-bottomed as if resting on something
they push against though it holds them.
From Weep Up (Tupelo Press, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by Maggie Smith. Used with permission of the author.
Maggie Smith is the author of Good Bones (Tupelo Press, 2017), The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison (Tupelo Press, 2015), and Lamp of the Body (Red Hen Press, 2005).
Date Published: 2017-02-08
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/accidental-pastoral