Historicity/13th & Lafayette
Tall grass blue chicory on every yet to come corner Unruly movement Unsung tracks horse mud paved in cobbles Carriage paved meant horseless tail fins Filling station open late Left off Route 66 the interstate siphon Old underground tanks leak Unknown something keeps nothing happening on this corner Nothing but air and weeds seeding themselves
Outside, a flat abdomen with a six pack of streets and alleys roughly scrubbed of structures and a divot in the middle of the street: a coverless manhole in the dark with a knot of shadows to guard its messy secret tangle of plumbing: veins and electrical conduit, gas lines and wind pipes, intestines. Only the street lights and stop signs concede there might have once been something
more: an answering pulse, the cords of neighbors and strangers, some braided, some chafed and bleeding together, some outright wild, but related all in their constant jigsaw tumble of stories piled up over fences, drifting in through second story windows, stopped to talk or brushing past on the sidewalk, unavoidable in and out the corner store, upstairs apartment, big family house full of dinner and kids
gone missing, gone for sprawl, grown up along clean, uncomplicated streets lined by the same six houses and a messy silence. Slowly, a new knot grows in our gut: a need to be known, to live close, the small round hole of shadow drawing us in, pulling us back.
Jennifer Tappenden is Poet Laureate of the University of Missouri – St. Louis, where she is an MFA candidate in poetry. She is also founding editor of Architrave Press and a 2011 Pushcart nominee. Her poems have appeared in Euphony, Slipstream, The Cape Rock, and elsewhere.
Photo by Simmons B. Buntin.