I have written this cityscape and it has written me –
chiseled into these bones, memories like the rings of trees
will tell the tale when I am cut open upon the slab.
It's not that I don't love you. It's not some need to escape,
like the one that first brought me to you
all those years ago before the road map started
etched itself into my face
so that my daughter tells me I am old and wrinkly.
(She is young, as young as me when I first wandered
your mysterious streets, and does not know
what age looks like yet, or what it is to be soul-tired.)
No. What brings me here is, as always, expediency.
The tape measure snaps back
I snap back, and the measurement remains. Some nights
I close my eyes and I see the city of my memory
– not the one that has risen to take its place –
and part of me longs to return. Yet when I do
it's not the same place. Even cement moves on without me
and I am left no choice, but to find my way
with an outdated map that indicates landmarks
which were moved in the name of corporate expediency.
Though the subway was never completed, Losantivlle,
you have roots winding all the way to the river
and just as deep and underneath you
so much moves that is not seen on the sidewalks.
The oligarchs have not stepped down
or turned over their power.
But this city is not theirs, anymore than it's mine.
And yet, when I leave, I know
I will sometime return and find some echo of the street names
that preoccupy my dreams and give depths to my nightmares.