And After the Ark

    The Heidelberg Project, 3600 Block of Heidelberg Street (Detroit, MI)

 

what was left behind was astounding:

 

dead trees wearing upside down shopping carts on their hands
conference call phones, black and ring-less, resting on a park bench
a pile of singleton shoes crowned with a blue plastic dump truck
and the signs: Camel Cigarettes Pleasure to Burn $ Special Offer
Toasted Double Melts, 2 for $4, and Yahweh scrawled everywhere

 

WHY WAS THE FLOOD AND ARK NECESSARY?
Because no one was able to catch a taxi out of Detroit.
They were only, it turns out, cardboard cutouts.
(take you in a taxi—God can taxi you to New York

taxi                              taxi)

 

WHAT DOES THE ARK LOOK LIKE?
See: America’s Greatest Manufacturing Experience
See:  Perfect Industrial Complex
See: horsepower, engine block
See: symbol of the American spirit

 

WHAT ANIMALS WERE TO BE LOADED ON BOARD?
I can’t tell you that.  I can only describe the creatures
(all stuffed) that were abandoned—plush lambs, a bunny,
a giant floppy dog, something that might have been
a mouse, possibly a pig, but mostly teddy bears
nailed to porch stairs or rotting siding, deflated
and torn by the wind, uncolored by the rain until
all the animals belong to the same (god)forsaken clan.

 

And You Shall Say God Did It

 

but really it was racism/poverty/economics/inequality/violence/
deindustrialization/cars/suburbia/mismanagement/corruption

 

and all the factories of the great city burst apart
and the floodgates of the sky broke open
and schools and jobs were blotted out
but day and night did not cease

 

and all the flesh that stirred in the city persisted

 

the buildings held their ground and used trees
to anchor themselves to the land

 

and O Yahweh, the sunflowers—have you seen
the tangle of sunflowers in the yard?

 

 

Erika Meitner is the author of three books of poems, including Inventory at the All-Night Drugstore, and Ideal Cities, which was a 2009 National Poetry Series winner. Her poems have been anthologized widely, and have appeared in journals including The New Republic, Tin House, The Southern Review, The American Poetry Review, and Slate.

 

 

issue: Issue 15
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