Rain just ending, I look through a chain link fence
at the demolition of another shopping center.
Half gone, the buildings huddle in the rutted parking lot.
The little market’s plate glass windows are punched out
and only checkered linoleum is left in the Laundromat.
The gas pumps have been hauled off
from the corner station,
replaced with a mountain of crumbled tar,
and the restaurant is torn down except for one chimney  
that rises like a bombed out remnant in an old war photo.

Truth is, I never shopped here much.
It felt dated, doomed.
Everything degrading in that last year:
vacant shops unrented,
and the pavement sinking more after each storm.

Without walls, the sky has filled the space
between the dry cleaner and the druggist,
and the shrubbery’s upturned,
roots exposed, in front of the donut shop,
its ovens and metal racks long gone,
only the narrow counter left,
its framework austere, almost dignified.
Even the long legs of the huge metal sign
have collapsed, buckled over.
It’s face down in the weeds now,
like some ancient struggle was staged,
then abandoned.

The sun grows stronger and the mountains
come into focus, sharp-shadowed in the distance
while shafts of light brush across the ragged expanse;
a little like an old oil paintings,
a bit ominous, oddly biblical.
And here come two boys, riding bikes
across the muddied ground,
rearing their front tires up as if on horseback,
their voices calling across the open plain.

Published in Mal Pais Review

Photo by Jose Antonio Gallego Vázquez on Unsplash