Up from Calumet

by on September 19, 2022 :: 0 comments

Up from angled roads paved on top of ancient beach ridges
that were once the trails of indigenous people
from sedge meadows, calcareous prairies
too sandy, too wet, to plow
where sand was mined to build the railroads and highways
where king rails fish in greenish yellow slag leached marshes

Up 294 North, 80 West from Calumet
past Thornton Quarry, past Ford Motor Company
past the pig services plants
past metal scrap yards
and the Old Indian Boundary Line

past the Alsip water tower and the Swap-O-Rama red white and blue

past billboards that advertise
fireworks just over the border,
a showcase of all the local injury lawyers
who will get you the money the world owes you

past backhoes and cranes
and rows and rows of jersey barriers
past dump trucks filled with gravel to make new things
and others filled with broken pieces of old roads
to be taken away, but not very far
to join a hundred years of spoil piles
that riddle the South Side
as sure as air raid sirens will be tested on Tuesday mornings
and the coyotes will howl back at them from forest preserves
where they live unnoticed by their human neighbors
or occasionally are mistaken for dogs

The cars and semi-trucks speed directly at me
then under me, sitting in the Southland Oasis
above the overpass looking through walls
of glass at the traffic
watching the circulation of a giant heartless artery

reflections of beautiful young women moving behind me
float like ghosts in the glass… and disappear
I hear the year’s first red-winged blackbirds
far away; almost drowned out by the sound
of the traffic.

editors note:

What we can watch beside the dotted-white line. – mh clay

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