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.