Poem: The Secret Life of Ruins

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The Secret Life of Ruins

The silo sits at the edge of the road.
The barn around it half burnt to the ground.
You pass it each day, a remnant of life
before you came.

You cannot recall a time when it was more
than a ruin. You have never seen it,
seasonally full of new corn, never seen it
dispense its fodder and feed.

A John Prine song in steel and wood,
it sings in the late day sun
of farms and worlds allowed to die
as a world, fast and hungry, passes it by.

You stop on a cloudy day and draw close.
Your hand grasps the cold metal.
It is still strong and solid, quietly defiant
against the more than a decade of neglect.

You bond, aware of the power of that neglect.
You have allowed it to happen in your own life
and for a time, lived the life of a ruin,
before time did the strangest thing

and healed you and made you both
stronger and softer, a paradox
of broken power that even you have not come
to understand fully.

About this poem

The silo is just across the state border in New York. It’s part of a small barn complex that has been in ruin since a fire for more than a decade. It is one of those pictures that had a poem in it and I just had to wait for it to emerge.

Tom

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