Pam Clements

Going South

The old elevators hulk,
Low pipes of the giant organ
Pedaled by General Mills
Cement stacks
Wait along the river
Between Downtown
And the steel mills
Industrial detritus washed against
Erie in gray communion.

In high school, boys would tell
Adventures, trying to get inside
Abandoned silos
Down past the projects
Exploring, chased by bored guards.
I never knew
Whether to believe them,
Or the tales of workmen falling
Into the piled-up grain
Shipped in from the west,
Smothered in dry oat dust.

Driving the Scajaquada south at night
Near the tops of the grain elevators
Far above the Buffalo River
All gray and black
Except for curls of moonlight on the lake
And ebbing lights of the city

Elevating
Industry and transport
Into high drama
Chiaroscuro, counterpoint
Silos dark and darker water,
The stream of red taillights
Always receding
In classic red shift
Watching the pulse of the city
Fade.