Poem: Such a Thing as Too Late

 

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Such a thing as Too Late

The ghosts have fled.
They were the last thing holding up these walls.
Everything else left long ago.
The people.
The machines.
The hopes and promises.

Left empty for decades,
coming undone brick by brick,
board by board,
Windows broken, one by one,
some by vandals and bored teenagers,
others by storm and winter winds.

It is a shell now,
or perhaps, less than a shell.
The winds came.
The ghosts fled.
There was one storm too many.

And now, there is only rubble,
politely fenced in and left for the undergrowth
to claim it’s own.

About this poem

My new bride is from Massachusetts. Since meeting her several years ago, and in the past year as I have migrated between Vermont and Virginia, I have fallen in love with the old mills and factories that populate most of the mill towns in the northwestern part of that state. A few have been repurposed, but far more of them have been abandoned.

From time to time I find my way into these abandoned monoliths of early American factories to take pictures. There is a strange, eerie beauty to them. Some are empty. Some still have strange machinery, equipment and a jungle of pipes and wiring.

If you have any belief in ghosts at all, you can sense them in these abandoned factories. It is not hard to imagine these spaces alive with activity and people hard at work building not just things, but lives. When those factories died off, so did the towns and people around them.

In time, those old monuments of industry are forgotten. Even the fences that one set them apart from the world outside, come undone. Paint peels. Windows break. Ceilings collapse, and in time, always in time, everything collapses or goes up in flames from one of the homeless people or addicts that often take up part-time residence in them.

I tend to see old buildings as I would see people in our society. Too many of them are abandoned just because they are difficult or expensive to restore.

There’s always hope as long as the basic person (or building) still stands. But leave them alone long enough, withhold restoration and sooner or later, they can no longer be restored. Ever.

There is such a thing as too late.

Tom

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