Across Main Street

This could be a ghost town.
I sit on a white bench before the main street store,
which is closed. No one in sight.
They’ve left the aeration fans silent
at the grain elevator, abandoning this wide street
to echoing cries of doves passing overhead.

The pale, cool midday sun throws soft shadows
of trees in Memorial Park against the warm
south wall of the Senior Center, where marigolds
huddle in sober humility, stunned
by that first frost, hunkered
for the inevitable hard freeze in a few days.

I could fall asleep on this bench.

The wind has left the street, too, except
a tentative breeze stirring in the north somewhere,
carrying nothing but a clean, dry, earthy scent
from the corn stubble out there.

Now the soft crackle of gravel popping under bike tires
arrives with a little girl on her wandering
white-wheeled bike on the sidewalk across the street.
She weaves, walking really, astride
the saddle, lazily examining the chipped and pitted
concrete just ahead of her. She may be singing.

She searches for whatever.

“No one to play with?” My voice
passes easily across the pavement.

She stops and looks up.
“No.” Her word echoes around town.

“Such a nice day, too.”

“Yes.” She moves her handlebars
and the tire twists in the crumbling concrete.
“But I like to play by myself sometimes.”

“That’s good.” I’m keeping her from her lonesome
happy thoughts. “Well, have fun.”

“Bye.” She stands on a pedal and glides away
and leaves the lovely desolate street to me.


About Greg Bryant

I teach writing and literature at Highland Community College in northeast Kansas.
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One Response to Across Main Street

  1. bryon says:

    With the big fans off, that street easily could be quieter than a library.
    Such lovely descriptions you’ve made here. Knowing this town myself, I can look around it in my mind as you call attention to each point. But everyone who reads it will be able to summon a vision of some small town as it sits poised between fall and winter, loneliness and solitude, survival and failure. This is one of your finest.

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