Poem: Sunlight in the Mill Town


Sunlight in the Mill Town

No one in town can tell you
exactly when they closed the plant,
but it was a generation ago.

Young generations, with children of their own
cannot recall it anything but what it is today:
an empty ghost of a building,

a place their parents speak of,
once bustling, now habited
by the occasional homeless soul

until they too, are chased away.
The canal runs past,
shallow water running fast

for no purpose.
An indelible, empty landmark.
It draws you, a grim reminder

of your own empty past,
of dark windows and broken things
and memories of purpose lost.

You go in.
It is dark and dusty inside. Cobwebs abound.
Most everything salvageable has been pillaged

or spray-painted with graffiti,
messages from the lost boys who never knew
this place as it was.

There is a strange art to it.
Half history, half a storage hall
for ancient dreams and promises.

You linger in wonderment,
that such enterprise could be made worthless
by the scratch of an accountant’s pen,

and just like that, becomes a mausoleum.
A holder of dead hopes.
It is at times, too close to the bone. Except

for this one thing:
Yours is a tale of resurrection,
and when you are done with your explorations.

you will walk again
in the sun.
Hopes intact and shining.

About this poem.

One thing we have here in New England that we did not have in my native Virginia are mill towns. The region is punctuated with these towns that once had big factories. Powered by steam and the rivers they were the drivers of the industrial age.

And now, most of them are empty. The work all moved to places far away, leaving behind these huge old factories and entire towns drained and empty. They fascinate me, these places, and when I can find a way to get it one and photograph, I will always take it. At times, it’s even done legally.

I see these factories as an object lesson of my own life, except for one thing – I have been brought back to life by time, faith and love. And so it is that I leave these places, not sad, but grateful, wallowing in the sun as I leave.


PS: This picture was taken at Turner’s Falls. I have not found a way into this particular factory yet.


    • I have been doing this for many, many years. I carry my camera with me nearly all the time and often pull off the road to shoot something that catches my eye. My kids and my wife now. I. Fact they often say “There’s a poem in that one!”

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