In the Street

Here we are, on top of the utopian arc. The water is shallow. An oil spill shimmers on the surface like a lens catches light and folds it in front of a mirror. If someone stands next to you, they are there, even when outside the picture. Which makes total obscurity relative to luck and such. Unlike the law, architecture lasts. A façade, like an ideal, can be oppressive unless balanced by a balcony on which you can stand and call down to those in the street, Come over here and look up at us. Aren’t we exactly what you wanted to believe in? 


Copyright © 2017 by Mary Jo Bang. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 3, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“From the remove of standing on a balcony and looking down on a street, it’s sometimes possible to believe in a brighter future. Writing this, I had in mind a black-and-white photograph titled Mysterium der Strasse (Mystery of the Street) taken in 1928 by the Bauhaus photographer Otto Umbehr (Umbo).”
—Mary Jo Bang