Andrew Collard

          (Detroit, MI)

Today I descend the stairs of the old parking garage

as though I’m under anesthetic,

                                                    fragments of the past washing over me

until I am unable to name the artifice of your piazzas,

to call your smokestacks out as noise.

                                                            These gaps in memory

impose on my attention the way your various structures do

on the sprawl of the landscape

                                                 as your children leap between them

in their F-150s, Chevy vans, and discontinued Buicks, as the buses

and elevated train cars offload bodies

                                                            in exchange for other bodies.

Even so, I remember the gas station up the avenue, selling what passes

for New York-style pizza

                                        spinning behind a pane of glass,

and the intersection it took a full ten minutes to navigate on foot,

how I was so sure, then,

                                        of my father’s command over the crowded street

I never questioned, never thought in all the world

we could be lost.

                            We were going to the same place

all those grim travelers out along Jefferson were going, the place

they disappeared to,

                                  the traffic shooting west toward the Harbor Terminal

with its warehouse painted a startling blue, the dock where the ferries

loaded passengers bound for Boblo

                                                         and your cargo ships departed

filled with steel coils, wire, and slabs destined for auto plants.

We were going

                         where the years went, as we watched entire decades

dissipate up and down these streets we walked, hand in hand,

the same place we’re still going,

                                                    in all the world no day like this.


about the author