The men at Sam’s Pub say it was during
a rowdy poker game, in loose chips
and quarters, and a straight flush

or full house. Or maybe it wore away,
they say, like felt lining an old pool table,
or chalk dust that drifted from a cue stick.

The local cops say it was the kids who stole
the deer crossing signs on Spring Township Road.
Snapped right off, they say, in the same way

little girls pop dandelion heads from the stems.
Some say it was in the flood that took
out the bridge, the fire that burned

Main Street’s American Legion to a skeleton.
Others say it was the blight that killed
the Chestnut trees on Bear Creek Road.

The same way we lost it in singin’, dancin’,
wishin’, dreamin’, say the women who work
breakfast at Kate’s Kitchen on South Main.

One day, a man no one knew left a tip
of half dollars and single letters, and Jane Wilson
not yet 18, swept coins and consonants into her apron,

then left without saying she would pick up her last pay,
humming a strange song with her tongue
pushed hard against the back of her teeth.

 ~ ~ ~

Karen J. Weyant‘s work can be read in Copper Nickel, Cave Wall, Conte, The Sugar House Review and River Styx.  She is the author of two poetry chapbooks, Stealing Dust (Finishing Line Press, 2009) and Wearing Heels in the Rust Belt (Winner of Main Street Rag’s 2011 Chapbook Contest). Her poem, “The Summer I Stopped Catching Bees” was included in Sundress Publications’ 2011 Best of the Net Anthology.  She lives and writes in Pennsylvania, but teaches at Jamestown Community College in Jamestown, New York.