We Always Have Been

Part 1

Today we must be moving closer to rain
Today for certain
Even in sleep I listen for the window rattle
Like every joyful jump rope song I ever knew

Part 2

We aren’t gone you know
In spite of all reports
We aren’t gone
They jackhammered our names out of the sidewalk
There on 25th
The theatre a gym
The theatre a parking garage
The theatre a housing development
The other day
Before dawn
By the Main Library
The streets still steaming
I remember
When that was magic enough

Part 3

There on the hill
We used to pick wild blackberries
The woman on the corner tells me
She can’t get rid of them
The canes keep coming up
Between carefully planted

Part 4

Pocket full of toasted bay nuts
Anything is possible
At this time of day the bay is brighter than the hills
Gives back light
Gives it back
In overtone green of delta water
Sinking blue and Pacific
I miss the mudflat sculptures on the way to the bridge

Part 5

Rain and
Finally rain
With that characteristic laugh
As if we spent every morning just like this

Part 6

I’ve built a bridge out of coated copper wire and
The tiny lawn daisies from near the museum
We aren’t a museum
Not a funeral
Not a broken bottle
We’ve built a bridge together
But haven’t found the footings yet
I know what they say but they’ve been wrong before

Part 7

Walk with me and I will show you things
They aren’t secrets but not too many people know them
Shhhh some will tell you that we were one culture here
Listen, you can hear the gull cries too

Part 8

Before they paved Market
You could tell the time by the wind and dust
In that movie
They drive by Uncle Fred’s tailor shop
Right there
You can see a couple through the window of the Victorian
On the fountain
Try to remember that the bay isn’t just low tide, we are more than that

From Smuggling Cherokee (United Booksellers, 2006). Copyright © 2006 by Kim Shuck. Used with the permission of the author.