I lived in Pawtucketville for several years, from the late 1970s to early ’80s. I often write in response to a place or to make sense of a place, and that neighborhood was no different. I lived on the top floor of an old triple-decker, a sea-green block on a cross street on the down slope of University Avenue near the Dracut town line. Here are a couple of winter poems from those days. I used to walk to work in Cumnock Hall at the University during my first time around on campus, before leaving to help develop the national park. The first poem with its colors is an allusion to the short poem “Disillusionment of Ten O’Clock” by Wallace Stevens (1879–1955). I was reading a lot of “imagist” poems back then. The first one was published in Yankee magazine in 1996, and the other one appeared in my second book, “Middle Distance,” (1989). —PM
Walking Home for Supper
Geranium sky crowns tenement roofs.
Sub shops send cheese-steak smoke signals.
Thin light glazes buildings.
Wintry blue erases the pink clouds.
White house with a gold door.
Gray house trimmed white.
Green door on a yellow house.
Red door for the pet shop.
Bells tied to a market door.
Homeward drivers guide cars
Up the snow-packed hill,
Headlights steady on.
214 Sixth Avenue
Bright snow at midnight in the shut-down neighborhood,
Mute homes of folks I can’t name, although
The storm made it clear, filling every open space,
That we’re on top of each other in the many-storied blocks,
Tied to black power lines and banked with monster drifts,
Which the twirling amber lamp of a truck-plow
Turns gold when the chains clank past.
—Paul Marion (c) 1989, 1996, 2014