There were too many well-marked and paved roads
For it to be Small Town America. Was only wanting
The antique store with the ribboned-off rocking chair
In which the very Martha Washington once perched,
Or just something easily identified as quaint
By the camera-slung and tube-socked visitors.
For redemption, there were mom-and-pop diners,
Bottomless cups of coffee, boys drinking
Blue Moon on back porches, and, in the summer,
As if imported by the tourism council, the insects
Sawing nightly at their violin legs.
Rained sometimes, too: the weather clearing
The accumulated dust and boredom of late July.
But what I remember best were the women out front
Hal’s Sandwich Shoppe – the last two letters of which
Were tacked on stupidly by his son, Harry, years back –
The women out front in shawls: real good
At gluing their judgment to anything
That they thought deserved it and a lean tongue.
Each year, one girl grew fat with the warming months,
Her boy always long gone or off to the war.
Poor Lily last August, Stephanie with the midriff. Fates
Of this small place, the porch bound women
Honey-stuck their eyes. Forcing each girl
To endure. The chairs creaked and signs swung,
The expansion in that swelling New Hampshire heat.