blackbird online journal spring 2002 vol.1 no. 1



Tearing Down the Old Water Tower

I climbed this water tower once at age sixteen,
drunk on stolen liquor mixed in a mason jar:
brandy, tequila & rum. We called it a suicide.

I clutched the jar in my right hand
& teetered two rungs at a time, spitting
on the upturned moons of my friends' faces.

The bone-clean dust of stars stirred
& my body drifted like an idea, like a mouthful
of smoke rising into the night scent of honeysuckle.

My feet slipped. Cold steel. One arm
jammed between rungs the other swinging loose.
The jar was simple. It fell & I watched

it shatter on the concrete, rise fifteen feet
like a crown of milk. There was a sharp crack & then nothing
before dust rose as the water tower fell.

I want to describe this perfectly. That tower
was my idea of night sky, beyond the peeling birches
behind my mother's house. Like cicada shells

I'd crush between finger & thumb, the tower fell into itself.
The moment melted like heat on blacktop.
Dust mushroomed where the tower had stood.

The man ahead of me held a video camera.
White scars on his neck & arms revealed
removed tattoos: a star, a snake curl.

A column of dust fingered the sky & for a moment
it was the tower, the tower would always stand,
until the wind gusted & the crowd winced as the dust stung.  

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