The houses line what was once a dirt road,
now paved asphalt painted with orderly stripes
of yellow and white. The hill slopes downward
towards crumbling brick buildings, what used to be
a mill bustling with labor and life,
whole families working in continuous production
of soft flannels and plaids.
The chain of rust-eaten roofs, missing slats
of wood siding, untended yards overgrown
with clover and thistles attest to decades of neglect.
Jagged, broken doors hang off their hinges, lonely
for former occupants who used to keep them swinging.
The windowpanes that do remain are shattered,
jutting shards of glass that speak silently
of emptiness and abandonment.
The houses stand empty. Shadowy remnants
of the hard-working families seem to haunt
the ramshackle buildings they never owned
long after their few belongings were packed away.
Steady breaths of lint and cotton dust
killed slowly; the end
of the mill and eviction quickened the rest.