"Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muß
man schweigen." (Ludwig Wittgenstein)
Abandoned Asylum, Northampton, MassachusettsUnless...one is a poet.
I stroll the grounds, as a grander era
Would have phrased it, and listen for lost screams.
In the town below, other cries are blasting
The grace of this shy, spring afternoon.
I’m here to recall what I never knew.
Broken glass trills softly, wood weeps rot.
I stand on tiptoe and stare through begrimed windows.
The flannel nightshirts are gone, the leather straps
And the tubs in which to take cold baths.
A whole hymn-singing century is mouse shit.
I listen for the ghosts of regimens. I listen
For bright eyes throbbing with dizzy faith.
I listen for the taciturn, the bleary, the mopey.
I sit in a shadow and wait for the manna of grief.
Here, the engines of betterment roared
With iron understanding. Here, moral fear
Played its riffs on the bent hearts of living bodies.
Here, the most awful beauty bloomed like lilies.
Behind the main building sumac is growing like crazy.
Lord, I pray to the bricks and splintered casements, lighten me.
(Poem by Baron Wormser)