They materialize at dusk at the edges
of driveways and sidewalks, in the middle
of the quiet dead-end, hands asway,
intermittent wipers desperate to clear
clouding swarms of gnats.

Head nods greet and the babble
begins about the old Hathorne mansion
with its plywood windows and piles
of rust, about spectral sightings of
the neighborhood doyenne buttoned up
in plaid flannel in the August heat.

Next comes caution for the threadbare mama
and her cubs crossing the Albany rail
trail, later stationed at a garden
bed’s edge sniffing at a frisbee toss.

And what about the Parish schoolhouse,
empty shell in a vacant lot, remnants
of separate entry for boys and girls
preserved, weathered for sale sign, lonesome
invitation wooing a cavalcade of cars
with out-of-state plates.

When dusk turns to dark someone recalls
how we rallied against that developer’s dream—
train loads of city folk adventurers
on a Tough Mudder course,
sure to trample the woods, pollute the river,
and flood the night sky with fluorescent light.

Darkness settles with no streetlights to fight,
cicadas yield to crickets. The congregation
disperses before anyone thinks to imagine
that long gone September day when
the Half Moon ran aground on a mid-channel
shoal in the Stockport Creek and Henry Hudson
spent the day gathering chestnuts waiting
for the tide to set her afloat.

Now that must have been something
to talk about.

Elise Chadwick

Elise Chadwick taught English at Horace Greeley High School in Chappaqua, New York, for 30 years. She draws much inspiration for her poems from the time she spends upstate New York in her 200-year-old home coexisting with the deer, groundhog, fox, bats, rabbits, and squirrels who got there first. Her poems have been recently published in The Paterson Literary Review, Literary Mama, Wingless Dreamer, and Gyroscope.

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