Down 191, between the Castle Gate and
Willow Creek Mines, passing
endless ore cars, air thick with
the sweet reek of coal, we are southbound
into the heart of castle country.
Crenellated high ground gives way
to broad valley, alluvial fans in tan and brown
like the delta of some great lost river
offering the gift of soil.
It is Monday and everything is closed.
Our car, alien Washington State plates,
the only one moving, our hopes for breakfast fade.
But Kokopeli’s Diner is open and friendly;
we ask, over omelets and pancakes
where everyone is. The waitress smiles
“It’s Memorial Day;” telling us all we need to know.
We tour the town through quiet streets
heading northeast where the map shows city parks,
and on E 400 Street we find the people.
The cemetery has a freshly painted fence.
Trees, a study in shape and swaying greens
against grays and blues of cloud and sky
frame stone, marker and monument.
Here are hundreds of flags, thousands of flowers
and most of the citizens, living and dead.
It is ghostly quiet; only wind and bird break it.
In the distance a dog barks once and stops
as if embarrassed. There are picnics and blankets
but conversation is too quiet for our distant ears.
We think about taking a walk but this
is an invitation-only party.