Telling Our Story in Verse, pt. 1
In the spirit of Tell Arlington’s Story – Arlington County’s initiative to gather stories that demonstrate Arlington’s rich cultural diversity – the Shirlington Poetry Workshop has challenged writers to create new poems about Arlington.
By Mark Powell:
The world over, in our area too
Are places of sharp division in little space,
Yea even across a clear single line.
Places of bifurcation, dichotomy.
Half Street in south DC
Glebe Road between Beverly Hills and Arlandria
And Shirlington. Between the “villages”’s affluence, ease, prettiness
And much harder scrabble
Ranging honorable blue collars to illegal presence and desperation.
Two peoples, overlapping, interacting little
Separated by a little river
A dry-times ankle-splash, in rains a brief torrent
Some trees and trail
And, like most any other such stretch
Lots of trash that shouldn’t be there.
The better of daily walkers peck at it
Occasional groups bite more largely of it
But it never disappears.
In these score-odd acres on both sides are two Americas.
The library contrasts, in some, illiteracy
(In English if not their own languages)
Harris Teeter, the food bank
The nice shops, the used-tire place
WETA, the Weenie Beenie
But these contrasts do not define most important human ones.
Good and bad populate both sides.
On both are people who should be on the other
Either to enjoy the fruits or toil or wander in the grittiness.
In places far and mutually unknown
And ones immediate and quasi-strangers,
People are what they do and believe
Not where they are, work, shop, play, sleep.
And all in all this division
Shows a great, maybe uniquely American good:
For you see, there is no gunfire
Not even rock-throwing across the Run
Our footbridge is not the Bridge at Mostar
The peoples and their dogs meet in the park.
America, at least in ideal, is not about equal outcomes, but opportunities
Making movement across the lines in all Shirlingtons free.
Learn more about the Poetry Workshop.