Donna Prinzmetal wrote this poem in response to Terry Wolverton’s prompt “Sundown Over Ghost Town.”
Sundown Over Ghost Town
Without a zero we cannot make ten or a hundred. Similarly
with emptiness: It is emptiness and at the same time it is
the basis of everything.
The Dalai Lama
The question is where are the ghosts?
The question is who will mourn them?
When the sun descends
each tumbleweed moment dries the edges.
Can something absent be quantified?
That is the question.
Can the town that’s gone
have a parade? Or is it like zero
buzzing silently with possibilities
still an open gash.
The question is if we take away the glass
is a window still a window?
Oregon has more ghost towns
than any other state.
We cannot see them shimmer
on the hillside
the way the living shimmer
when they’re afraid of the darkness,
when we’re afraid of the darkness
that comes just after burning.