Thursday, October 29, 2009

the trash pile

in the woods, downhill from the house,
just above the trash pile
there is a series of collapsed pens or cages.
a few warped mossy boards, greyed fenceposts
& several kinds of wire fencing:
something that looks like chickenwire
with much larger hexagonal holes,
another smaller chickenwire,
another kind of woven wire with proud warped rectangles
& some barbed wire that looks like it was thrown in
to keep it from feeling lonely.

this was a house for birds, turkeys
when there were no wild turkeys in these parts.
grampa raised and released them.
one of his first batches was a dozen turkeys and one pheasant
the dogs got ahold of
that fell in for fowl company.

the dozen with pheasant surprise as mascot
were seen all round the countryside:
over on the other side of the T road,
out in Danby, down in the Plattin Gap.
a pheasant in the presence of turkeys
is remarkable and easily identified.

given time turkeys flourished.
now the numbers are such
there can even be hunting.
still grampa throws wheat in the woods
for hungry turkeys and plants feed plots.

grampa's raised clutches of eggs found mowing hay.
when you uncover a nest like that
the hen isnt coming back.
maybe she'll go off and make another nest.
so home with those eggs in his hat
covered with his handkerchief and into the incubator.

there's a tree at one end of this dilapidated pen.
it curves and points uphill toward the house.
built onto the tree is the frame
of what once stood for a door.

a patchwork maze of wire and wood
that had to have a wire roof
to distinguish in from out.
the wire walls were partially buried
to prevent anything burrowing under
a planted fence that never grew.

right next to the pen is a convenient pond
for watering the birds and hogs once kept here.
one of the smallest and most ignored ponds on the farm.
one of the oldest.

barren blackberry bushes lean over the water.
it'd take a boat to pick em come summer.
there are deer tracks and droppings on the bank
and moss for a plush green carpet.


the trashpile has always been an enthralling place
for a child with any kind of imagination.

dryrotted lampshades, forgotten babydolls, records
warped and missing their labels, toilet bowls, TVs,
containers of every possible kind.

containers are the most disposed of items.

appliances. a few things i recognize
from before they were thrown away.
years of fallen leaves make the trash look like solid ground.

i just found a plastic elephant's head.
i'll take it in.

springs from mattresses and other furniture.
faded wooden frames, upholstery eaten by time.
the containers are overwhelming:
pull-tab pepsi cans, green bottles, milk jugs.
mrs. butterworth wears flip flops.
a clothes dryer filled with glass cranberry juice cocktail bottles.

old green bike. frame looks good.
i see the wheel of some toy truck.
an aluminum percolator with curved handle and spout
two-prong plug on its base.
soda cans from before tincans were aluminum.
a freaky pale doll's head.
another potbellied percolator.

yes, it's illegal to dump like this.
it's no more wrong than landfills,
dumping toxic waste into the ocean
or pumping it into the atmosphere.
this trash pile affects far fewer people.

i found two lightbulbs
in a stream
a halfmile off.

it wasnt illegal when it started
sixty years past. a standing tradition.
there are other caches of detritus on other hillsides.
trash collection is a recent development.

a trash pile is a record
of lives passed hereabouts
who never came back
to collect their deposit.

what was used & thrown away.
all those finished things.

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