Monday, May 07, 2012

River Road

The last time I saw Augie in town he’d sold a painting and he was celebrating with the girl who’d modeled for it. She was a grad student at Chaney and she didn’t have much to say to me so I said how’d he get you naked?  She shrugged.  He asked.  It won’t work for you.  A week later I was clearing a storm drain on Howe Plaza and she walked by.  I said hey.  She kept walking.  Her friend said what was that.  

Tremont’s Chaney’s town.  It’s relentlessly gentrified, determinedly artsy and enlightened.  But pedal your Trek out the River Road on a rainy day and the ivy withers quick.  NO FRACK signs thin out and when you look up you’re in Northern Appalachia:  Failing dairy farms, new wellpads.  TOPSOIL.  FIREWOOD.

Waiting at the railroad crossing for a long line of graffitied tankcars I wondered what looked different.  One new wiper slapped the windshield post.  When the last car passed I saw the slumping barn that had stood across the tracks was gone.  They’d leveled the site, already leased the space: A row of watertrucks was parked there.  Where the new ground fell away raw and chaotic a corner of the milkhouse stuck out like a whitewashed outcropping from shredded asphalt, broken sidewalk slabs.  CLEAN FILL WANTED.  The crossing arm went up.  I went on. 

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