Daryl Muranaka

Looking For Ghost Towns

1. Morning in Colville National Forest

 

Jon sleeps like a dead man

in the bed of the truck.

My fingers hurt in the cold.

The fog rolls in around the bend.

The sun, a pale dot

behind gray clouds.

 

Off the road, the ground is soft,
and a creek runs down the slope.

The sound of it rushes under

the street, a foot wide

and an inch and a half deep–

­I think to wash my face in it.

 

The fog touches the stump

of a pine that’s been cut

smooth like a table

and hauled away.

A bluejay has begun squawking.

 

There’s patience to be had

watching the fog roll in around

the trees; in how the cars pass

them by the side of the road.

 

Snow plow, you come down

the mountain like a violent rain.

I kick the truck to get Jon up

so we can get back on the road again.

 

 

2. Bodie

 

We drove all morning

before we reached the valley–

­long and narrow–pointing north.

The clouds let up

when we crossed Sherman Pass.

The sun felt good

through the window.

A few houses separated

by pastures were stitched

together with fences.

 

We passed the town once

and turned around. We drove

all morning to find those four gray

houses behind rusted barbed wire,

lodged into waist high grass.

 

We found beer bottles

thrown out back,

the boards sagged and

creaked under our feet,

paper and plaster

cluttered the floor.

The windows of Bodie

were shattered–the culprits

lay at the back of the room.

 

A German Shepherd

had come here to die–

­either shot by someone

or hit by a car. His empty skin

lay in a bedroom. Jon

looked at me before saying,

“Bodie’s the name of my dog.”

 

3. Grand Coulee

 

Outside of Omak there’s a sign:

Hitchhiking Permitted–

­Limited Distance.

 

Laughing, we wondered

what was the distance.

There never was another sign.

 

Two hours later,

across the Reservation,

we reached the tall curtain of air

that separated the brown

from the green lawns, the brown

from the white curbs.

 

We spat out the window,

spat on the dam, ate

cheese sandwiches and threw

the crusts to the birds.

 

 

Daryl Muranaka was born in Los Angeles, California and split his childhood between there and Hawaii.  He lived in Spokane, Washington where he earned an MFA from Eastern Washington University.  From there, he traveled west to Japan then east to Boston, Massachusetts where he lives with his wife and daughter.

2 comments

  1. Daryl, you must have been there. Those images are much to vivid to be made up!

  2. Great poem, Daryl. I once lived in Washington State & recognized the atmophere in reading your poem. Once lived in Boston-Cambridge, too. // Good work here! Hope to read more of your work. You have what it takes, no question. Thanks!

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