Thursday, March 09, 2006

Go There

Tonight, returning
from a surprise birthday party
for a friend I don't see often enough,
I got lost in a neighborhood, on a street
where I lived three decades ago.

I was in the midst of a divorce then,
used to walk the neighborhood
late at night, sometimes afraid, as
young woman are, but it was worse
at home. I walked and walked
returning to a life that didn't work.

I was trying to imagine a better way.

The house across the street
had the most beautiful garden in the city
but tonight I couldn't find it
or the house where my first husband
lives a life right for him,
but not for me,
or the garage apartment
three blocks away where I lived
when I left.

Lately I've been enmeshed in
an environmental debate about amendments
to the city charter which would codify
transparent government, open records,
public access to meetings, require the city to protect
our aquifer against grandfathered developments,
toll roads, subsidies for polluters and corrupt
state politics.

These are ground breaking and brilliant
tools to bring government back to people
at the local level, make it transparent --
write environmental protection into
the essential rule book
of a locality.

Debate is a kind word for the hullabaloo
the amendments have raised, even
from people who decry corrupt
government and environmental catastrophe.
People don't know what will happen
if we pass them, and are afraid we'll lose.

Tonight I got lost in a neighborhood
I lived in three decades ago.
I walked streets then I twirled through
tonight disoriented and lost enough to remember,
I'd been trying to imagine a different life,
the life I now live, which is different from
what I imagined it would be.

Some streets are difficult to leave.
You have to imagine a different way --
go there.

┬ęSusan Bright

Susan Bright is the author of nineteen books of poetry. She is the editor of Plain View Press which since 1975 has published one-hundred-and-fifty books. Her work as a poet, publisher, activist and educator has taken her all over the United States and abroad. Her most recent book, The Layers of Our Seeing, is a collection of poetry, photographs and essays about peace done in collaboration with photographer Alan Pogue and Middle Eastern journalist, Muna Hamzeh.


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art courtesy of Debra Hurd


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neighborhood protectionism promotes something I deplore
even more--Urban Sprawl.

Since only 10% of the land mass of this American continent is developed, I say leave what is already developed to rise to whatever height it may.

I favor stacking to spreading thin when it comes to citified space and enjoying the natural environment where it is free to be--out in the countryside.

The tighter the density the greater the likelihood that there will be acceptance of mass transit over the internal combustion vehicle and that's preferable IMHO.


10:06 AM  

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