Historically

by Jessica M. Barnard

…here in my village which masks as a city
in times when a building is taken by flames
nothing but plantlike will sprout in its place.

The hotel, the house, the hardware store,
each lives below ground as stratigraphy does,
compressed to a layer of old history.

Crops make money, so they may live,
spreading their limbs on deforested plots
as a checkerboard seen from the sky far above.

But buildings make breadth, not bread. They are
created in clamorous crowds of construction,
and can’t be chopped down and replaced

in the way that lackadaisical landowners burn
ten thousands rows of orchard one night,
and turn their roots to history.

Profit is planted in the hollowed-out space,
but buildings live longer than a harvest moon,
so if they die, we keep them that way.

My town knows no change but crops
out infrastructure to make room for money.
It grows on trees, here in my city. But

we make plans, nowadays, of transformative schemes.
These changes, their roots draw their energy deep
from the aquifer betwixt those layers of ash,

which fertilize the roots of the money trees.
This pattern of preference, of profit, of pride,
it feeds us and fuels us, historically.

 


 

Jessica M. Barnard attends Grand Valley State University and is majoring in writing and minoring in anthropology. She writes poetry as a way to reflect on her surrounding world and to practice with the music of language.

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