in the hollowed husk of what
was once a shopping center
lived a few dozen wayfaring strangers,
gathering their second-hand wastebin belongings
around themselves like castoff crows' nests
scattered around the burn-barrels that
provided heat against the occasional cold gust
of midnight wind that pierced the Texas dark.
i would see them from my window as
the train passed, shrieking and clanging.
from behind the safety of glass and metal,
i peered into their makeshift den, as they
lay still in the shade of the hundred-degree afternoon,
unable to cool themselves otherwise.
one day, as we made the usual intermediary stop
along my route from one job to another,
i looked for the old building, for the people
perched over piles of old clothes and newspapers,
faces haggard and cracked like the picture of the
Dust Bowl family that was put in my grade-school
history book to show me what poor people looked like.
in the spot where the building once stood sentinel
lay a twisted pile of steel and drywall, torn
asunder by a yellow crane, scooping away portions of
the heap and clearing the path for the trucks to come
and haul away the wreckage, mauling with claws extended
the cracked and chipped exterior of the formerly occupied
two days ago, i passed the spot again, and there was
only dirt and the odd pile of gravel and twisted metal. i don't see
any signs to indicate why the building was demolished or
what is destined to take its place. it may simply be left a
vacant lot, and the owners just wanted to clear away the
"rubbish" and "waste," if you catch their nodding implication.
"Property values," you know. No one wants an "eyesore" on
their commute to the office.
i wonder where the former tenants scattered to, or if
they were simply swept up into the dumptrucks with the
debris left by the bulldozer's hungry teeth.