Tuesday, December 15, 2015

"Silver Star" by Richard Hugo

Silver Star

This is the final resting place for engines,
farm equipment and that rare, never more
than occasional man. Population:
17. Altitude: unknown. For no
good reason you can guess, the woman
in the local store is kind. Old steam trains
have been rusting here so long, you feel
the urge to oil them, to lay new track, to start
the west again. The Jefferson
drifts by in no great hurry on its way
to wed the Madison, to be a tributary
to the ultimately dirty brown Missouri.
This town supports your need to run alone.

What if you’d lived here young, gone full of fear
to that stark brick school, the cruel teacher
supported by your guardian? Think well
of the day you ran away to Whitehall.
Think evil of the cop who found you starving
and returned you, siren open, to the house
you cannot find today. You question
everyone you see.  The answer comes back wrong.
There was no house.  They never heard your name.

When you leave here, leave in a flashy car
and wave goodbye.  You are a stranger
every day.  Let the engines and the farm
equipment die, and know that rivers
end and never end, lose and never lose
their famous names.  What if your first girl
ended certain she was animal, barking
at the aides and licking floors?  You know
you have no answers.  The empty school
burns red in heavy snow.

Source of the text – Richard Hugo, Selected Poems.  New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1979, p. 87-88.

TJB: Timor mortis conturbat this tiny town. Using details visible from the highway, the poet imagines the reader imagining youth in this hamlet.

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