Deconstructing New England

Toss in some wavy lines, an equal sign, and a squiggle,
then a lilac log, boulders with faces, a few phrases
like rock walls, twin marks from wagon wheels on granite.
The tell-tale lilacs give away the cellar hole:
magnetic lilacs, like nineteenth-century girls
in pinafores and blossom sprays, stationed
beside their no-longer houses. They look about to sing.
Banana curls. Purple ribbons tying their waists.
And boulders in the woods act as billboards
interrupted by an enormous Mont Blanc fountain pen, lounging
like an alligator. It intrudes. Comes out of my present
time. No. Be less. It's a Bic ballpoint. Bleached by deletion,
"By the middle of the nineteenth century, when de
forestation reached its peak, more than half
of New England's native forests"—according to Robert M. Thorson,
Stone by Stone—"as much as 80 percent in the heavily settled
parts of southern New England—had been cut down,"
"replaced with 'open space,'" the autumn foliage
is paint-by-number and different tabs throughout
                   are half-finished murals
of a single type of tree in a single time of year.
Here's the place where someone w/ a pewter spoon kneeled
to plant the Lady's Slippers that still appear,
and the mushrooms like a stack of dinner plates
that run up the side of a rotting tree.
Here's the fallen-in deer stand
and the apple tree among maples making fruit for deer.
Outside the woods, the puff of dust on the road
where the school bus used to stop.
Outside is the failure to stay in touch
or, really, to ever be in touch. I didn't
ever know them (my neighbors) well.
In winter you are handed a white tray
with a few tiny rock walls, short lines drawn with a ruler,
an indent for where a cellar hole could be
a hyperlink to once go once more to the lake
and told to go at it, go play.

Alexandria Peary, "Deconstructing New England" from Control Bird Alt Delete. Copyright © 2014 by Alexandria Peary.  Reprinted by permission of University of Iowa Press.
Control Bird Alt Delete
(University of Iowa Press, 2014)
More Poems by Alexandria Peary