He’s just hopped off the train
In Houston, twisting an ankle on the way.
Left dried up dirt and family
In Georgia to plant a new life
In the city.
Sounds like steam escaping,
But it’s just cars, rail cars,
Filling up with aggregate—
Pebbles pouring in shifts
To fill a city with concrete and steel.
He can hear the land screaming,
Until the pebbles bury it
In sterile silence
While the trees die
And the train whistle moans.
He’ll bring the wife and kids along,
When something like work turns up,
But in the meantime, he looks for
Leftover trees that the bulldozers
leave, to shelter him from
The starless night.
In Georgia, a handful of dirt
Was blown out of his hands
By the hot wind.
In Houston, a handful of dirt
Is scraped into artificial hills
Only to be lost to landfills.
He smells leftover life of cows
Whose ghosts can be heard mooing
At midnight among the loading docks.
Hot house trees bring human order
Out of the old green chaos,
Until the ornamentals wither in the heat.
He notices the wilt
As he walks into his first day’s work
In the new concrete warehouse.
Joanne and Matt Sprott