Issue 7 :: Spring 2005  
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Debra Gingerich

How to Show Decay Without Filming a Rotting Carcass

There are so many options: a pale horse
meandering through abandoned streets,
a lone seagull picking at empty sand.

Or how about a prime minister shot
in a country whose sewers ooze
with brutality’s waste? Tribute flowers
set in place for the funeral march
catch fire from the mourning candles
held up by sand heaped along the sidewalks.
Wax seeps into the street, crowded with armored
men. Bystanders cover their eyes and ears
from the cruelty of the gun salute.

Or just notice the crumbling brick of a city
once cradled by a wide-eyed nation
and the soda bottles replacing fish
in the Conestoga River. With no sense
of decorum, their scaly remains flop
upon my doorstep. My neighbors and I
have learned to ignore the stench—sealing
our windows shut, pulling the blinds,
and switching the TV channel
to a reality show with bikini clad women
eating the eyeballs of lambs.

Losing Ground

We returned from Ocean City in March
with photos of snow sifting through sand.
In the end, the long winter tested
the resolve of us all. After the first few storms,
the beaches gave in, allowing the wind
and snow to pull the sand with them
into the oceanís depth. No numbers
of jetties or sand dunes could stop
the wearing away, leaving
a sudden decline to the shore.

He says I should be happy because
my sorrow only brings him grief.

Now June, I slide into Rehobothís surf
that still bites from the winterís chill.
My heart has always beat with the rhythm
of this placeóits quiet side streets,
relaxed boardwalk, and porch-front
restaurants. And now, I share its sense
of disappearance. Sure, there are times
of joy, times when I can kiss him
without feeling the sting of what
commitment takes. But it is not long
before the end of this day and the drive home
through Route 1ís heavy traffic, salt
thinning the skin that swathes my bones.
Photo credit: Corel