A Piece of String
Our brick row house, I never saw it
as narrow. Wasn’t it wide as a truck?
And wasn’t I, little one, giant
lord of that crumbling alley out back?
Didn’t I shadow those battered valleys,
crouched to watch life pressing out
through the cracks, the grass tufts
my post-nuclear ferns, the dandelions
a new order’s sunflowers? Ants, alien
or ally hordes. And over my ruins,
rising above the laundry-room door,
our fired-clay fortress, wasn’t it
broad as Godzilla’s paw? Where I lost
my warriors in the cement’s fissures,
there sprouted elegant bluish blooms,
banners better than headstone pebbles.
Remember the old question How long
is a piece of string? How long
did my brother and I fly on our bikes
off the end of that lumber-scrap ramp
propped on a rock stolen from our own
mother’s garden? It will be forever
unclocked. And how long till we drove
back down Parma Road and marveled,
our first home, so small and broken?
We’d been the insects on that tract
some lords in their clouds had mapped
paved and traded. Then we’d migrated,
across City Line for the schools. Times
I still want streets to split open, vines
sprung from the freed roots, sudden
stems like fat green anacondas, leaves
spread fast-as-dream and glinty
as executioners’ blades over our heads,
and the sky ready to be my memorial
petal, no stone to carve years in.
Read Jed Myer’s Letter to America poem “Family Gathering”, also appearing in Terrain.org.
Header photo by Bruce Emmerling, courtesy Pixabay.