Big Hole Valley, Montana
Nostalgic sense of longing for what is irretrievable.
Human culture is but a ghost town,
the lonely study of books,
the mystery at the heart of life and death,
influencing the direction of natural history,
the heavy snows of many hard winters,
just a few layers of stone,
empty ore buckets between two camps,
stone footings, twin chimneys of brick,
and slag piles of a dormant smelter,
a small charcoal kiln on the hillside,
a boiler, tending toward the color rust,
disused alongside the road.
A wooden sign names intersecting dirt roads.
Old saloons and brass bands,
Wagons covered by earth,
diphtheria epidemic graves,
weather worn tombstones and moldy shade,
small fences and misremembered history,
Barroom brawls filled leisure hours.
a few metal pillars of poetic lamentation,
the prophetic employment of an alternative vision,
exposing the underlying contrast between the ever-diminishing splendor and beauty in wood and the changing course of time,
the sometimes bizarre confluence of the two.
Brick archways of slang speech.
Buildings lay in piles of rubble,
the ancient and famous aesthetics of crumble and rust,
lean silent in overgrown grasses,
hoarding secret shipments of precious metals,
irresistibly drawn to self-reliance,
no sense of humor.
Mustachioed toughs once wiped cigar smoke from their eyes,
women damaged natural instincts,
the constant atmosphere of crisis.
What remains is epilogue and epitaph,
chords like wind of death-song, of threnody.
Philosophy and implied threat gust hot and hard,
decaying the credibility of rambunctious newspapers.
Sun shines stronger and whiter in a cloudless sky,
hot wind whips the sun-cured grasses and shrubs and trees,
and all those complex molecules are left rustling
and waving in the air,
as if beseeching aid in returning to a simpler time.
Macho mercantilism and lively livery stables,
one church and a bowling alley.
Spiders crawl over shabby draperies, neglected oil lanterns.
Cold mistakes pummel grayed walls.
Railroad promotion and lost material,
following the contours of high and low silver prices,
unimaginable physical destruct of land and colonies.
Town destroyed by fire, falling market prices,
rural families of persistent decline.
Time and scavengers have taken their toll.
Shallow water flows across the tailings from out of the collapsed mine opening.
Hungry ghost karma momentarily calmed.
Thick foliage and grass engines in vehicles,
bitter grudge of banishment,
concrete blocks chip away, naturally.
Wind whisks, plants, and worries the duskiness of the past’s bright lamp,
ephemeral affairs of the world,
weary journey of mind and metal,
feels like a ghost town right now.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Brian D’Ambrosio
Editor: Renée Picard
Photos: author’s own