because while some truths lend themselves to equations, others are best described in verse

where will you stand when it rises

the sound of jackhammers
ceased, cranes stand
expectant. they tell me
there is growth here,
but the streets are broken
open, slip
sores to the ebbing
flow of days.

still, they pull fewer bodies
from these waters
than one might think;
a tribute to the sinking power
of upward mobility.

in the Bottom,
men work the corners
in teams. you hardly see
the flower-seller

the night runs through
fog-off-the-river shadow,
streetlight over slick
cobblestone. like so many things,
headlight distances
can be deceiving.

the first train mourns slow
through middle trestle
headed West; the second
runs canalside at speed,
coal in darkness.
their rhythm blurs time and distance,
and suddenly we could be anywhere,
and in it lie forgiveness.

there is a single petal in red
at the center of the pipeline,
a dead finch on brick sidewalk
come morning. the jackhammer
is awake.

on the near side of the hill,
the bottom floor of Sanger Hall
is seeping[1], and they are pulling
bodies into the elevators.
upward mobility.

i never used those shafts
if i could help it.
eight flights then was the easy part[2].
we find our history like headlights:
not so bitter now, not so dead.

there is growth here, too.

[1] “VCU’s Sanger Hall remains closed after water main break,” R.Daudani. Nov 26, 2013. What no headline or article mentions: VCU Medical Center’s morgue resides in the bottom floor of Sanger; immediate effects of this fact, real or imagined, are my own.

[2]The gross anatomy (cadaver) lab was on the eighth floor.

16 responses

  1. nice…i love the bottom…you bring out its character in all the detail…i like, the sinking power
    of upward mobility, ha, nice commentary that…finding history like headlights is another zinger.
    yikes on the cadavers.

    January 14, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    • thanks, brian. i was hoping to get at that– the character of the Bottom, especially with all the controversy over new development of late… cadavers: well, they go with the territory. better to learn on dead patients than on live ones! *smiles.*

      January 16, 2014 at 10:50 am

  2. Talk about it all coming back to you. So much for those who say there is no movement in death.

    January 14, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    • indeed! thanks for stopping by. πŸ™‚

      January 16, 2014 at 10:51 am

  3. There is power in this. Thank you for sharing.

    January 14, 2014 at 6:41 pm

    • thank you, Colin.

      January 16, 2014 at 11:24 am

  4. A very chilling poem…dark, mysterious, and excellent writing IMHO.

    January 14, 2014 at 6:43 pm

    • *curtsies nicely* Thank you much, sir. πŸ™‚

      January 16, 2014 at 11:29 am

  5. Pour souls. Upward mobility here not the type of Resurrection promised.

    January 14, 2014 at 7:23 pm

  6. Your message is so real, awesomely delivered!

    January 15, 2014 at 2:58 am

    • Thank you, Wendell; I do so appreeciate your kind comments!

      January 16, 2014 at 11:41 am

  7. “suddenly we could be anywhere,
    and in it lie forgiveness.”

    That images ties it all together for me – this is the universal problem (death) and the universal solution (there must be a reason for it, right?) and I enjoyed the icky images of cadavers. Keep writing Dr Poetess

    January 15, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    • glad you enjoyed the icky, Mosk. πŸ˜‰ Good to see you.

      January 16, 2014 at 3:21 pm

  8. Such a great poem! And I am not saying that only because of my somewhat recent fascination with abandoned places – I really like where your imagination took things here.

    January 17, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    • I’ve got a bit of that same fascination, I think. πŸ™‚

      January 17, 2014 at 2:26 pm


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