May 152012

by Blake Ray


Walking alongside the old railroad tracks

(ties bleached the color of blond coffee

by fifty summers of relentless August sun)

I feel the rhythm of this town in my veins again.

It’s a feeling that I haven’t had since I left.

It mingles with the summer smell of vegetation

and the ambient sounds

of wasps buzzing in the distance.

And yet, at the edge of it all, I can feel

October closing in.

I went to a bar I used to frequent

where the drinks were cheap and strong

and the bartender was surly,

but as I wound my way down into

the charnel darkness that used to

hold a dive worthy of our youthful delusions

of rebellion and danger,

I was greeted by the soft glow of tea lights

lining the new bar that had replaced the

pitted wood we had drank at years before.

I wanted to feel cheated by time,

to feel my teenaged three-chord angst

running up my spine, to feel outrage and loss.

But I didn’t.

Instead, as I turned to leave,

I felt immeasurably young—

surrounded by buildings, and trees, and ideas

that would be there long after I was just a shade.