Life on the Street

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L.L. here, with Random Acts of Poetry, musing about streets. Technically, I didn't grow up near one. That's what town and city kids do. I grew up near a road. The road had its seasons, just as trees and waterways have theirs. In Spring it was pure mud, the kind you picture on an old wagon trail. Rutted. Boot pulling. Dirt pungent. "Smooch!" said the mud, when you tried to get away. Then shale trucks would come, spreading sharp stones that cut our feet. But they put the mud in her place--until hot sun baked Spring into Summer, bringing black-eyed Susans and wild strawberries to the roadside. Dust came too. Nobody liked to be near the road when an occasional Ford pickup flew by, raising brown clouds that made you cough. So town men came and sprayed. Black oil. It can't have been a healthy fix, but it (mostly) soothed the dust. Autumn brought golden grasses, leaves swirling, the blue heron, and fog. And mud again, though not so much as in Spring, since shale still held it at bay. By November, we'd get our first winter storm and plows would scrape along, sending snow and shale flying. Cleared and cold, the road iced over. I still remember grabbing worn leather skates that hurt my feet, and going out to glide, trip, stumble, glide... down the road. Snow banks were a wall we couldn't see past. But on days like those it seemed I might just laugh them away. ---- This week, in the poems you posted, there were streets that made me smile and one that made me cry. Here they are... Excerpt of Erin's We Liked to Talk I Guess There was a phone In every room At 909 Main Street (except the bathroom). Upstairs, One in each bedroom And one in the hallway (and we used them all). Downstairs, One in the kitchen One in the dining room (shaped like a piece of corn on the cob) continue reading Bradley's Errand (he left it in my comment box, so I gave it a name and changed some of the letter cases... well, that's what can happen when you leave a poem unchaperoned at my place : ) Last Saturday, while driving around the bucolic suburbs of greater Philadelphia, running ordinary weekend errands, I clicked the signal and turned right on to Street Road. Street Road? "Let's name it Street Road," I imagined them saying -- those well-bred, founding fathers, plain, yet possessed with such a staggering lack of imagination. And lastly, Maureen's Reunions: Father, July 18, 1990. Because it's about the death of her father, I've included the entire poem. It seemed like I shouldn't excerpt something this tender. Scene 1: 2909 North Nottingham Street The clock set at 4:15 p.m. Before 4:30 I lost you in a chiming of ever-closer sirens. From you to phone to glass door I watched for that blur of red — rose-deep, a harder color than I want to remember — screaming to come clear. Help in a red and white wagon pushing for last tries before unlasting breaths. The pulse punishes the memory, the adrenaline maxing out when you need it most. The noise was a pain. Everywhere for seven minutes before then suddenly here where it had to be. My hands to my ears, automatic-like, did no one any good. I didn't expect the rescue in front of me to go bad. I didn't want to be in control Of a 63-year-old woman panicking and my not-yet two-year-old urging, Grandpa get up! Grandpa get up! This is the part of the parts I never reacted to: How a half-dozen volunteers arrived in less than eight minutes How they rolled up a corner of the antique Persian carpet How they pulled you from the bathroom where you collapsed to the place we call the living room Where they used mouth-to-mouth — so much better were they than I — and shot you up to trick your heart into rising again How they couldn't wait to stash the detritus of their care How I couldn't wipe away the sticky pool of cells absorbing our newly refinished floor How it was over and then just began A neighbor I had not let in saying, Go. Don't give it any mind. I'll take care of it. And the baby. (Did I forget about the baby?) Scene 2: 1701 North George Mason Drive I, in front with the driver, you, Dad, in back, an EMT still doing his best to keep your beat to the beat. In Emergency, before I quit telling them I couldn't sign any papers, you, alone in some cubicle with a doctor making decisions of his own, were already gone. Kept busy answering for information not one of us had, I cycled all the numbers from Jacksonville, to Venice, and Ft. Myers, Florida to Indiana, Kentucky, and Bethpage, Tennessee Startled into starting all over again when a nurse hushed us to a private room. The news was changed. I couldn't have prepared for the difference I saw in you Cleaned up, that sheet of antiseptic white giving no hint of the way your chest had been pounded. Lifelines removed, your eyes stiller, the curtains on their rolling rings shutting in a private moment A wife somewhere carrying on. We were together one last time before our last time. How much time was enough time to be with you? Cases waited. They needed the space. Someone asked about organ donations. Someone else said you were too old To give up anything but your corneas. I asked what you'd want. Your license didn't say. On the way out I took in hand a brown paper bag, more fragile than the satchel we lug groceries in. More plain than the kind for tidying papers we bundle every Wednesday. T-shirt. Socks (no match: you were color-blind). Black shoes? (A guess.) Belt. Billfold. Watch worn since retirement. Left over Left out Left for. What I have of you still I hold in safe-keeping Your watch keeping its own time. All RAP Participants Laura’s I Am the Gate Nancy’s Our Street Melissa’s she, stirring Eric’s Hidden Joy Jim’s Parables Susan’s No Fairy Tale Glynn’s Hope, Blinking and Rues de Martyrs nAncy’s a road Dave’s On Quincy Street Kathleen’s Dear Frankie Maureen’s Reunions: Father Marilee’s Laurel Hedge LL's 56 Irving Place, Gramercy Park and Quick Cindy’s Crossing at Kicker Road Simple Country Girl’s Street Address: End of Dirt Road and Farm Door Beckons Liz’s Highway 60 Prairie Chick’s One Country Mile Linda’s The Farm on Buffalo Ridge Claire’s Blikkie Monica’s When He Lived on Horsefly Road Susanne’s 716 El Rancho Drive Emily's Stonybrook Kelly's March on St. June Missy K's West Washington Penn Avenue in Pittsburgh photo, and post by L.L. Barkat.

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