MARKING OUR TERRITORY
Is that a gator from the bayou
ready to take a bite?
Or is it a friend tried and true
standing by your side?
Maybe it’s your faithful steed
waiting for you to take the reins.
Maybe it’s just what you need
to cross uncharted terrains.
Brush off the snow and climb aboard.
No one is rejected.
Let your imagination soar
in ways unexpected.
Turn a stick into a sword
and slay the dragons around you.
Paint the grass in checkerboard
and play a game of chess or two.
Turn a vacant lot into a town square
and see potential in a wall.
Gather all the artists there
and beckon them to draw.
Have the poets write their lines
on sidewalks of the neighborhood.
It doesn’t matter if they rhyme
(though of course they could).
Have the musicians play all day
keeping music in the air.
May each contribute in their own way
and be heard everywhere.
Such suggestions might seem unsound
when we get down to brass tacks.
But the world is our playground
and our actions are our tracks.
Courtesy Burlington Writers Workshop and PlanBTV South End, I had a wonderful opportunity to work with photographer Erin Dupuis on a mixed media project. The idea was to capture some aspect of the South End that we found inspiring. She took a photograph and I wrote a poem to go along with it.
We had some logistical setbacks, both scheduling-wise and with subjects declining at the eleventh hour. We had originally envisioned the photograph and poem being of a person in action in the South End, but when that fell through, Erin sent me a batch of photographs she had taken at the start of the project.
All the photographs were stunning and inspiring, despite the lack of people inhabiting them. Or maybe more so because of it.
For one of the pictures she sent me was a stark closeup of an empty swing. My mind started whirring with the twin ideas of how sad it is to see a playground not in use and how a playground is full of potential. What was I Iooking at? An abandoned swing, slated for deterioration from apathy? Or something just currently — and temporarily — dormant until kids came out to play.
I thought it looked more like the former and my poetic train of thought turned bleak, as I thought of budget cuts, empty playgrounds, and childhood cut short. But at the same time, my thoughts went a different route, thinking how what things are and what they can be are both up to us.
As I looked at the picture included in this blog, this more affirming, second thought took over. I imagined joyous kids of unlimited potential climbing onto this creature and it becoming whatever they wanted it to be. In the same way, our reality — our future — is never fixed; we have the power to change it for the better; to make it what we want.
In the picture, notice the tracks in the snow. Someone was there. What did they do? Where did they go? The tracks are evidence; a record of their passing through. What kind of record are we leaving?