by Sara Malott
I sit at a high-top table by a big open window
Looking over the streets of my birth place
I look up and I see blue skies finally
A promise of an eventual spring.
Around me are stoic brick buildings
Older than anyone I’ve ever met. Across the street
Award Beauty School, rusted hanging white sign
Above a school that has been closed for ages
And I am reminded that there was a list at one time
Claiming our city to have the third largest collection of ugly men
In the country. Satisfied customers stroll out of the age-old
German restaurant, doors held open by rusty bolts and miracles.
A man in a blue-buffalo-checked shirt
Walks through the middle of the road and inspects each car
He passes. A stop sign is angled directly towards myself
And I am worried that I am exposing somebody’s secrets.
The ground below me is all concrete and pavement. The
County commuter bus stops for no one while a balding man pushes
A double stroller down the sidewalk with only one kid.
I will leave this library and go home soon to a neighborhood
With houses that do not have TV satellites hanging by a thread
From somebody’s window. I will go home to a neighborhood
Where people still hide their drunk crumplings behind the bedroom door.
In my neighborhood there is only mowed grass and flower beds.
You will not find cop cars or cigarette butts on the streets.
Yes, I was born here
Yes I call this place my home but I have been lying to myself
For too long. I do not know what it is like to ride a bike
On these streets after sundown. I am not around to see
Lost souls shooting up in the back alleys. I am still taken aback
When I see people without homes talking to themselves
On the streets in mid-day. This is not my home
I am but a visitor. So today, I write this poem as one
Would make a scrapbook documenting a beautiful vacation.
I am a tourist. Here are the attractions.
I will be back soon.