November Questions

This is another in a sporadic series of posts dedicated to memorializing our Lockport life before we move away.

November Questions

There is nothing romantic about early November in Lockport.

The air is wet and cold.

Houses huddle together under a ditchwater sky,

and Clinton’s Ditch gets drained until there’s nothing but

the dregs—brown, brackish, like what an ugly lung would hawk up.

Punctuating this poisonous stew are shopping carts and stolen bicycles.

We play a game of counting, seeing who can spot the most,

a kind of blue-collar, rustbelt bingo.

It passes the time.

We wonder:

Why does the bicycle thief drown his plunder instead of selling them?

Is there some secret thrill to shoving a Schwinn off the High Street Bridge?

And then there are the children who gather at the edges

to watch the corpses of their dreams fished out of the muck.

What innocence is lost when the pink Huffy is uncovered,

its plastic pennants streaming algae from the handlebars,

white-walls dulled to the grey of institutional underwear,

the banana seat diseased, the horn swollen and burst like a pustule?

These are November questions.

And then there is the further mystery of

who pushed the Dollar General cart three miles so that she could dump it here?

What was in it that wouldn’t fit on the bus?

And why the waste?

In this city, there’s a bounty on every functional cart.

Store managers wait

Like anxious sea widows to find out which and how many

will be returned home to them

when they’re finally brought up dripping from the slimy stew.

Against the rusted steel skyline, beneath the bare bones of winter trees,

the graveyard of November slowly empties.

Someday it will be spring again, when the canal will fill

with water and the indiscriminate killing will resume.

For now, we return home, curiosity unfulfilled, awaiting the less gentle

season to come.