The supermarket had been vacant for five years.
Aged wood panels barricaded the doors and windows
To prevent visitors, protecting nothing.
But each time my friend and I passed
On a walk through town,
It called for us from the depths of its isolation.
Decay was alluring to us, only twelve then.
One midsummer day the market howled from deep within,
Resonant – overwhelming our pliable minds.
We walked around the backside of the building
To find a door unblocked, only slightly
Held shut by a rusted padlock.
What was once shut entirely from the world
Now was within reach, veiled by a gray, paint-chipped door.
After a few collective pulls,
The lock snapped,
And stagnant air rushed out of the black
Into our nostrils.
Light snuck in through high windows,
Through cracks in the plywood panels.
No aisles or registers—they’d been scrapped for resale
To ease the loss.
Only trash and dust, debris from a failed venture
Filled the wasteland, and we stood in awe
Of the apocalyptic, secluded world within our own.
In the old storage section of the market,
We found a ladder that led to a hatch.
We climbed and flung it open,
Letting sunlight pour in
Like water through a bathtub drain.
In a childish exuberance, we yelled
From the roof of the abandoned supermarket,
Claiming this land for our own.
We saw our town as birds do,
Looking down at small cars inching by on the street,
Seeing over the fences of our neighbors, evaporating privacy.
We breathed in our achievement
And boasted for the town to see.
Climbing back down the ladder, we decided
To explore inside some more.
We played baseball with long
Fluorescent bulbs found lying around,
Amazed every time
By how the glass tubes exploded
Into jagged shards across dulled tile,
And the noxious gas escaped like trapped souls
Hissing then dissipating.
We laughed at this.
We too were shattering,
Shattering our innocence, our holy selves,
Yet perfect in the eyes of parents, who had no knowledge
Of their boys’ adventures.
From then on marred by this dingy market.
We could not know, fully absorbed in the moment.
A challenge to our authority pierced the air.
Police sirens wailed and shook off our grins.
We looked at each other’s fear-worn face,
And ran like scared dogs over the shards of glass,
Piercing our paws, leaving a trail of blood
To follow back, years along in a drunken haze,
to this moment of decay,
and laugh about it.
With my feet scarred and his still bleeding,
We laugh about it.
Poetry Arrangement by Peyton Aston