Everyday places become symbolic when they lose their purpose. And the esteem in which we hold their symbolism has to do with what?
We stick old cannons on park pedestals. There’s a Congressman’s office lovingly restored in Baton Rouge and the guy’s not near dead. We slavishly reconstruct churches, theaters, even privies. I’ve seen historic markers outside of taverns, barns, gas stations, and a farm that grew the world’s largest geranium! Allegories all.
And then there are places like this. It employed thousands over a century or so. And as the largest stockyard east of Chicago it fed millions. But now it’s a decomposing dump. How come it has no constituency?
Look, I’m not proposing anything – this isn’t a weepy poem – I’m merely probing at the meaning of acres of decaying structures which are crammed with garbage strewn by night-time bozos who are too cheap to buy a pass to the county landfill. And of course I am looting the ruins for meaning – or at least a pattern.
Is this decaying place a symbol of anything? A metaphor? Is there something noble in the memories or lessons that it might pass to us? Or is the expanse just as much trash as the trash that’s coating it?
Nothing lasts forever and I guess this is neither a sad nor strange moment of transition– merely puzzling and a tad grim.