Seattle’s Poem

Seattle is a house


on the comings and goings

of water and wind

ripple of fish

feather of crow

early morning ferry yawn

Seattle I say

and invoke a man and a place

the two inseparable

not proportional

not parallel

but as language

is to poem

and salt to sea

I watch bridges, bicyclists, boats

summer blankets tendered

on public lawns

I watch fiery sunsets

tango and sway over jagged peaks

and autumn trees bursting gold

up and down hilly streets

Nevertheless before

I postcard and gloss

and more sunsets

and more trees

find their way into my lines

I must confess

the house’s foundation

is in places brittle

and many rooms dark

for windows lack

Plenty have I been

on the receiving end

of rehearsed indifference

heard enough shallow

arguments on who belongs here

to wake up scooping

ocean water with a spoon

we are all here

that need to be

The city is concrete and steel

plus the sum of its people

everyday we destroy

our house

then race to remake it

those narrow windows

block future’s view

mute voices

that need to be heard

muffle the sound

of the fallen tree limb

heavy with ripe plums

Everyday we tread

over Chief Sealth’s legacy

his prophetic words,

“At night when the streets

… will be silent and you think

them deserted,

they will throng

with the returning hosts

that once filled them

and still love this beautiful land.”

We are not alone

save for his people

we are all immigrants here

waiter, teacher,

artist, worker nurse

we belong

all of us belong

Seattle is a house

we all need to afford.

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