Skeletons in Old Town

June 27, 2019

Skeletons in Old Town Key West

Sherri Wright
Key West

In January I can’t tell if the bare tree
is a Royal Poinciana or a giant mango
a few doves sometimes a white capped pigeon
perch in her sprawling arms but no buds no leaves
shade the three tall houses being built beneath

Every morning through the kitchen window I search
her wide torso her pleading black branches
for signs of life I watch an osprey soaring
overhead I listen to roosters crowing hens scratching
dry brown ground at her roots

The carpenters start before dawn idling their
diesel trucks in front of my porch loading
trash from the teardown that left a skeleton
of the old eyebrow house once a hallmark of this town
sawing sanding nailing balancing on the roof
in shorts and steel toed boots long grey hair curling
under tee shirts tied on their heads cigarettes dangling
from their lips progress is slow but they are building three houses
where used to be one and the humidity is heartless

By the end of March I see that this relic will not
offer up buds leaves or blossoms this spring or any other

The hurricane last September didn’t kill this old queen
but four years of construction jostled her roots scraped
her bark bruised her soul she will never provide a flaming canopy
like the Royal Poinciana she once was

When the wood siding is nailed down the metal roof polished
to a sheen when the picket fence is painted white and yellow hibiscus
and fragrant jasmine bloom by her front door then
will they chop down this tree
or will they leave her skeleton to chronicle
what gentrification means to a town