what can be done about them

When he left for work in the morning, his silver Prius was like a ship in dark green waters, creating a wake that pushed away the debris of men and women who had nowhere else to go. He house was warm, remodeled, and full of grand old architecture. The homeless men and women used to sit on his step and wait for the bus. He used to plead for them to move and they would for a while. They’d push up on their skinny arms and legs and shuffle away, apologizing, and move in currents towards the park. Once they were far enough down the road, he’d jog down his steps and they’d be gone by the time he turned the corner.

Once at the park the group’s cloudy presence bothered the young mothers whose children played on the green grass. Shuddering, they’d push away their cream colored children, who were nestled in expensive chrome and navy strollers. “What can be done about our city?” The mothers would murmur to each other, their thin laps wrapped in homemade quilts.  “Who can we tell about these poor people?”

Committees were formed, coffee and wine served in the clean parlors. Art reached from the rich brown hardwood floors to the white glossy crown-molded ceilings. Pocket doors were slid shut, city council members wrote down notes on legal pads. Eventually the blight was moved west, and the mothers sighed in soft relief when they saw the navy policemen arrive, their badges and belts dipped in gold. The dusty grey ones didn’t come back.


12 thoughts on “what can be done about them

  1. Thanks, Kathy!

    I work in a neighborhood that is half very low income (homeless shelters on one end), and half gentrified. It gets to me sometimes.

  2. That was a beautiful piece about a sad situation. I think of my neighborhood which is so not-gentrified and we are all scrambled up here together but mostly no one is homeless, even if their home is a rusted out trailer shell. Single-wide, of course.
    Ah, lah. Just…beautiful piece.

  3. Did this image come from I.D. magazine?!?

    I had a copy of one once with a story about the guy (gal?) who makes these structures (attached to the vents of buildings). I think they are amazing.

  4. I visited D.C. back in college and I was immediately stricken by the vast discrepancies between one neighborhood block and the next. Driving by rundown curbhouses one minute and by upscale mansions the next. I kept thinking to myself how strange it seemed, how intertwined, and how surreal considering what the world would be like if everyone shared. It’s not that way, of course, but even my means being little, I live like a queen compared to most. The images of perfectly primmed moms in the park with their silver-spooned babies “discussing” what to do about “their” city raises the would-be hairs on my back.

  5. I’m not totally against the gentrification of a neighborhood; several of my friends live in beautitfully restored buildings and houses. It’s good to bring community and jobs to places otherwise left in the dust.

    But. What saddens me is that homes and lives are shaken up in the process. It’s merely a bandaid on the issue of homelessness, and shoving them to the side won’t help anyone. It’s just a sad, sad, thing.

"... all my lovers were there with me, all my past and futures."

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