Rubble by Pernille Smith Larsen

2nd place winner of the Streetlight 2015 Poetry Contest.

Rubble

 

The water found a home in our wreckage.
                 Our city, once a bastion of high times—
      colored lights on strings, avenues smiling
             all year churches, bars, and streets
filled with strutting horns, jerk sauce and hips—
                 now choked in trash bags
      whistling like reeds on a wade-through,
             snaring limbs, dragging us down.
Remain
                  calm
, we say, dragging strangers

      from the rubble. Our founders, rebels, saviors
             in bronze and silver
toppled. Straight-backed stoics
                 fighting silent acid tears,
      reduced to river-street ruck
             floating alongside bright orange cones warning
CAUTION! UNDER CONSTRUCTION.
                 It’s hard to think of ruin as opportunity
      to build
             again
a disaster undoes our pilings of time.
                 We’ve grown weary with memories of
      bricks scattered like seeds,
             but at sunup, red and orange
leak into each other
                 and we take the rescue boat out
      another day to pick up
              survivors killing time
on rooftops. Some sob,
                 hug us, insist things are better
      where we came from.
              Some see us as mirage,
woozy from the sun,
       others, like us,
              are too tired for gratitude.
Some days we only pass caskets
                 emerged from vaults
       comes everyone we thought belonged
              to the past
we keep
                 circling back
       to the oak tree
              left standing
after the flood,
                 our mark,
       where we stop
              to take toll of our tow–
                            bodies uncovered beneath blankets of stone.


Pernille Smith Larsen
Pernille Smith Larsen currently pursues her MFA in poetry at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Her poems are forthcoming or featured in Hartskill Review, Madcap Review, Marathon Literary Review, Crab Creek Review, The Vermillion Literary Project, and Asheville Poetry Review. Follow her on Twitter @nillalarsen.

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