Park and Hunter (What the fire left unfinished)

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Park and Hunter (What the fire left unfinished) by John Climenhage, 2021 oil on panel 12"X16"
Park and Hunter (What the fire left unfinished) by John Climenhage, 2021 oil on panel 12″X16″
A city outgrows you

A city outgrows you.
One day, you walk the familiar street
and it no longer calls out,
“Hello there, my friend!”

It no longer shows you the tortoise shell cat sleeping on the sill,
or the angry graffiti on the fence. The chicory growing out of a sidewalk crack
is gone. The pothole that you wanted fixed
is gone. 

Cardinals sing from the highest spruce,
but not for you.
or the spruce where they built their nest
is gone.

The ascendant takes your place
and cuts down the lilac that you planted when you first arrived.
It squeals to a stop at the intersection, but not for you.
The pissing, the glimmering, the roar of the crowd remain, but
a city forgets you.

Long after you've gone
the concrete stands,
but not the stoop where you kissed
or the tree you leaned against to weep.
Not the door that you pushed shut against the winter wind on that bitter night
or the window where you kept looking out,
hoping not to miss him, that, them.

You wonder if the city ever knew you at all,
even though you left your hand print in the wet cement
and wrote that poem on the bathroom wall.

You wonder how it could forget where you lost your keys
or your favourite table at the café.

How could it forget
the doorway left open on a hot summer day?
You could glimpse figures inside the dark interior
and the unruly rose bush that spilled over the garden gate.

How could it forget the importance of your life,
its habits and woes and celebrations?

Yet the city is still here, 
in spite of the builders and the bankers and the bandits and the brokers.
Humming and horking,
swilling and blooming,
stinking and honking,
finding a way to make a secret alley 
or a garden on the fire escape
or rock a baby to sleep on the twenty-seventh floor
as dawn breaks
behind the skyscraper
that stands where you and the forest once did.


This web page is part of The Climenhage Project Walking Tour.
View a map of more locations here »

© John Climenhage 2020

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