Charles T. Bowling, 1891-1985
The house trailers squat opulent as a loaf of bread.
It is 1940, no lines of men, their hands extended.
No chalked outlines on pavement, crumpled
double-breasted suits, pinstriped lapels still fluttering,
flightless birds plummeted from twelfth-floor windows.
Were it not for the trees, the trailers might seem companionable.
The trees say denizens of a Dante nightscape, squid-tentacled
limbs writhing, whipping the darkness visible.
I do not believe in the woman walking between the trash cans
huddled like mother and child and the sign promising M I L K,
two 1 x 4s nailed beneath, pointing the same direction—away, away.
Maybe it's her Popeye calves beneath the corrugated skirt,
her tight-necked blouse loose enough to conceal a .38,
and the hat—man-ish, a private eye, a wiseguy.
Is that a tin of hard candies in her hand? Cream-filled chocolates?
Roosevelt's heart? It's payment for the dark figure
behind the wheel of the charcoal sedan, engine idling . . .