11.2.2013 Journal Prompt

Photo by Helen Levitt
Photo by Helen Levitt

November 2, 2013: On the old block…

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One thought on “11.2.2013 Journal Prompt

  1. Lindsay

    On the block where we lived as kids they said that life was hard. They say so still, that it was a rough place back then and those that lived there grew up to be fighters and mean and dark. And the aches in our bones and the stunt to our growth, it was all on account of that place where we were brought up. And they say things are better now.

    I want things to better. For my kids and everybody’s kids. That’s only natural. But I don’t know if they’ve got it right. They tore the block down and for years there was just a hole in the place where it was and nothing except the broken sidewalk to say that it had ever been. And even the air was different then. Drier and cleaner, like it had been scoured with a wire pad. And weeds threw up flower heads and it was all grass in time.

    Then one day they built new apartment blocks there and the price tags on those buildings were fancy and they gave the street a new name so it would not be confused with the old. And they planted small trees, pink flowering cherry, and I don’t know the place anymore. And you have to have two salaries to live there and the kids are never on the street and the dogs are walked in balloon bunches of six at a time by a girl who is trying to pay her way through college. And the place is so clean you could eat your dinner off the sidewalk. And nobody sings on that street.

    And I stand just where Sinny used to stand when she was a girl, like she was propping up the building, and she smoked rolled up cigarettes even then and she picked bits of tobacco from her lip and I remember thinking it was almost graceful when she did that, the pinch of her fingers and the tip of her bubblegum tongue. And a few years on she stood in the same place and she made eyes at the men, or the boys that thought themselves men, and for small money she’d take you inside and give you something to smile about.

    And we did smile in those days, and we laughed too. And Merv was drunk every night about seven and he woke up all the early sleeping babes with his singing; and Colin worked late at the docks and he came home at all hours with silver in his pocket and whistling; and Charlie Preston arm-wrestled anyone for the price of a pint. And the kids threw sticks for dogs or played hopscotch on the sidewalk or skipping in the road or baseball where two roads crossed and it was wide enough to swing a bat. And my mam could hang her washing out the back any time of the day and there’d always be someone to talk to.

    And I stand on the street now and it is strangely quiet and though the lights are on in all the apartments, it is as though nobody’s home.

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