This ground has been settled a long time.
These houses are attached to it like colorful modeling clay
stuck to a dark brown cardboard slab.
The whole neighborhood brings back phrases
last heard when my grandma was alive,
phrases like “lick and a promise” and “wing and a prayer”.
Things people used to say when they were half-admiringly
commenting on the toughness of someone
who had a less than average chance of succeeding.
I notice that toughness in the eyes of folks living in this place.
There’s a look of being engaged in Life,
working through any current problem,
projecting a confident chin that quietly assures you
they will find a way to solve whatever the next problem is
The seasons move above our heads
slightly changing the lighting of the place.
The politics, and the technology, and the solicitors,
are all tolerated, all glanced at,
and all move along knowing
that lingering here too long is dangerous.
The braided souls of the pioneers made of strong strands of
practical knowledge, stubborness, and suspicion,
of self-reliance, ingenuity, and desparation,
are alive and studying us through the eyes
of the people living here.
That which gives people the power to outlast their detractors,
that gave white men a foothold
on the land of the Lenape and the land of the Duamish,
that gave former Europeans new world success,
that aids current Asians and Hispanics in that same task,
that which drives humans to dominate their problems,
and each other, …..is here.
This is a straightforward and simple place,
between 43rd and 44th Street,
These are a direct and uncomplicated people living here.
They are tough and flexible, serious and loving,
clever and devious, and they are at work,