Sunday, August 09, 2015

The Through Line Part II 1968

The men have taken the full pot of soup
up to the park again. With this next baby
due so soon I can’t carry much of anything
except the twins. They manage to attach
themselves, as if by magic, to my hips.

Some of the kids that hang out at the Psychedelic
Supermarket after carving “Sunshine
Loves You” complete with curlicues and peace signs
in wet cement on the corner,
and other such pink cheeked high as a kite sentiments,
managed to string a series of extension cords from

Neighborhood House across the street
to the makeshift stage behind the tennis
courts near the Youth Ministries office
they still call the Catacombs even though
the original had to close for lack of space.

This morning I stopped with all the little ones
by the orchard where the stables always
were to chat with the elderly woman who made
her fortune sewing up aprons and selling them
door to door. She was here collecting her rents

shaking her head at the flowered skirts,
headbands all the pale suburban girls draped
over the merry go round next to the wading pool
are wearing. A few too many of them
are pregnant like me.

Joe wants to keep them all warm,
we do what we can to make them eat.
Stan next door has big plans for his natural market
and I have Emery and his big heart.

Even the proposed curfew they’re all
talking about can’t bum him out. He says
we should throw a party, invite the city
commissioner a half hour before the enforcement
starts and make sure the media is there.

We laughed and laughed at that.
I wish the library were still here.
I try to imagine the line of kids
handing one book after another
up Hooker Street from the old building to
the new, the few older folks here
still remember that day as if it were last week.

I hear the Zoo is setting up on stage.
I’ll put the smallest children to bed and try to
get a story read with my swollen feet
propped up before the guitars get
too loud and the whole world sounds
like it is about to break apart.

The Through Line Part 1 1914

At dawn as curtains are drawn
In the children's room I can hear
harnesses clanking as horses
are hitched to their wagons up
at the drayage stables in the next block.

I smell blood from the slaughter
shed downstairs in back as Isaac
starts his day's preparations for the shop.
Dark men speak Yiddish in front of the Shul
as junk peddlers imagine prosperous finds

In the mud. Nothing goes to waste here.
I murmur to the baby in French so she'll know
when she grows the sound of a life more
than a butcher's wife, kosher or otherwise,
a life of thin hips and admiration

From some of the most gifted young painters
on the Continent. Those epic Homeric tales
of wild meaningful journeys, of intricate
detail, the white horse, the blue rose,
your mother one of the models,
a muse, yes, one of those.

It is not the smell of damp ink
or marble chips, this morning
but wood smoke, offal and the salt
we had delivered yesterday. Eloise says
there are a few new books in this week on the ships.

I'll send the boy when we can spare him
to the lending library. I want him to learn
more than how to handle the cleavers
and knives and look for old glass
up where the shacks used to be on the other
side of the trestle over this forsaken hole
in the ground they call a gulch.