"A History of Windsor"

By William Wright '12

William Wright '12Across the splintering covered bridge, the graveyard

of the repurposed and repossessed and the lost;

the glorious days of industry a mausoleum

for the house of ghosts in which Vermont was written.

 

The eccentric uncle, who for decades ground gears

with one squinting eye, the left side of his face

no longer speaking with the right,

tells stories in his halting, garbled manner:

 

of the Whites, the druggists whose patriarch survived fire

only to be dealt death by a cup of water;

of property disputes, the Rice family land-grab;

of the machine shop emptying into the sluice of men

 

on the main street when a grandfather blew the lunch whistle

at the Goodyear plant; how he would fumble for his keys

with his crushed hand, the bones splintered in a pattern

like a map of his life, leaving a wife for a mistress in later hours.

 

Then the Miller house at the peak

of undulating hills installed there as a ship

whose sea has drained away, its sails still unfurled

over the miniature townscape, shuttered,

 

bolt thrown at the front door when Chick, last scion,  

defying gravity a final time did violence to the hillside

ten minutes outside of town one foggy morning, the specter

of his single prop plane breaking apart over downtown in perpetuity.

 

And Chief Byron hangs his desiccated hand from the car window

to slow the approach of outsiders, his corpse propped up

in the tradition of whimsical law enforcement

on the lookout for guileless, noble desperadoes;

 

where all is quiet in the daylight and the seasons change

as if they were yoked to timepieces on church spires

whose guts are rank with wounded legacy,

bowels clogged with moth-eaten portraiture;

 

and drunks doff their hats in the Legion hall and Elks club,

where the Rotarians tolerate the slurred outbursts of the football

coaches who drink their dinners through cracked lips, down hoarse

throats, and leave the joints with pride in their veins.

 

Most family members will go to rest and die in the same building

in which, as babes, they were born, the operating theater now

filled with games and puzzles, berber carpet, and a TV

to quiet the brains that bristle and rage on, memory-less;

 

when Red sets his teeth and cocks his ragged cap against the wind,

thumbs his way past the lone grocery with the broken horse ride,

the string of Christmas lights between Putnum and Dowry blocks goes out,

the happy Greek on the pizza sign darkens, his brow troubled with sleep.

 

* Above poem awarded 3rd place in the Academy of American Poets Prize category for best single poem as part of the 2012 English Literary Awards.