View from Above

An empty bench, well-placed for the philosophic mind,
Welcomes a wearied traveler, who’d forgotten the tedium of the hike.
It has been years since you walked those slopes,
Since you tried to look upon the roof of your home, or further.
You take your seat and watch the sun
Smear its watercolors across the truncated sky.
You can still make out the checkerboard
Of browns and greens, lined with barbed wire
And sliced open with gravel roads.
The train sings on its tracks, it doesn’t even stop here
Anymore and wouldn’t have passengers to deliver even if it did
You watch the train race the cars that hum along the interstate
With its shiny new speed limit and signs that the wind will eventually
Blow down. An airplane touches down, another chases
The sun over the western edge of the world; the Northwest Passage.
In the darkness the four lanes look like a stream
Connecting islands of light in the darkness;
The valley returned, once more, to its subaquatic past:
A Pennsylvanian world not even the original Natives knew.
In the middle of the glow, a spot of red,
An electric landmark that once knew smooth booze
And smoother jazz; now, it only leads visitors astray
And threatens to snap like the icicles that won’t melt away.
You imagine the “crowded” streets that think they know what
Traffic is and pass the sign announcing “The Last Best Place.”
You probably missed it. You see the threatening parking garage
And the roundabouts with their mysterious inner workings
That make you take the long way ‘round.
You think you can hear the noise from the bars downtown;
That ringing will never leave your ears, not even up here.
The University buildings stand above the trees: an elevated
State of mind that beckons back to better days
And desks too small for comfort. Those days have left you;
The current day has given way to night and left you alone
With the darkness. But tomorrow, the sun will rise,
The planes will land and take off into the infinite West
And the interstate will hum the day away and the trains
Still won’t stop and you will once more move amongst them
And you will have forgotten all about the darkness of the night before.