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A Building Away

By Denise Bergman

She is a neighbor a building away, we talk weather and potholes, exchange
names Mary same as her daughter or is she Marissa or Maria I was distracted,
her nephew was chewing the leg of his doll and the day was disappearing before
seeds of our words could take root   A building a wall a fence a street an ocean a
ritual a tradition a history, turnpike exits mile by milepost zoom past, trails of
tears saturate the land, winds repollinate the fields with bones   The building an
ocean away across waves and tides is brick is stucco mud wood thatch a tent ten
inches from my open blinds   In the building an ocean away is a woman next
door, the thunder of blood in her heart deafened by jets circling their targets, the
labor of her lungs muffled by the snapping femurs of olive trees, bulldozers
turning her town and land family and children under   Don't tell me who is or
isn't a neighbor, don't redline my compassion

Added: Wednesday, July 9, 2014  /  Used with permission.
Denise Bergman

Denise Bergman’s A Woman in Pieces Crossed a Sea won the Patricia Clark Smith Poetry Prize and was published by West End Press in 2014. The Telling was published by Cervena Barva Press in 2014. Seeing Annie Sullivan, poems based on the early life of Helen Keller’s teacher (Cedar Hill Books, 2006), was translated into Braille and made into a Talking Book. Denise conceived and edited City River of Voices (West End Press), an anthology of urban poetry. Her poems have been widely published. An excerpt of her poem Red, about a slaughterhouse in the neighborhood, is permanently installed as public art. She received a 2014 Massachusetts Cultural Council’s Poetry grant.

Other poems by this author