It is decommissioned, off-limits, outright verboten,
Yet is traversed nonetheless,
Its patrons a mix of the pruriently curious,
The thrill-seeker, the merely woebegone.
As they have time on their side,
The hub-bub of school buses and suburban commuters
No concern as they navigate the buckled and broken asphalt
(The conflagration underneath changing the topography
Daily, sometimes even hourly)
They will stop to paint some phrase, some bon mot
On this roadway-cum-canvas:
Mostly the narcissistic monologue we bray at the universe,
The assertion that we were here, are here,
And (though it is plaintive yet unspoken) that we always may be,
Augmented with light hearted double entendres
And grim, hectoring Biblical quotations,
While not far away, the re-directed two lanes of blacktop
Carry onward, indifferently proceeding on its way
Through these stolidly scruffy old anthracite towns,
Their landscapes and the ground beneath them
Quiet as the sepulcher, the vagaries of their fates above the sod,
Stalking them impassively yet implacably.
(AUTHOR’S NOTE: At one time, Pennsylvania Highway 61 ran through Centralia, a town where property values are not what they once were.