10 July 2018

My First City*

Philadelphia seen from the Art Museum




Compared to
the peephole
country town
I came from,
HERE was a picture-window view
with sidewalks leading from the door
to most anywhere. You didn’t need rides,
didn’t have to walk against the traffic.
Pedestrians had their own roads
to art museums and bigger schools,
to part-time jobs and friends’ houses,
to movie theatres and stage plays.
Compared to
the stay-home
4-H town
I came from,
HERE was excitement with book stores
and universities, public
transportation and libraries.
Did I say you were free to go
wherever you wanted? Part-time
employment paid the way downtown
to serve ten-cent cups of coffee
fried egg sandwiches and donuts.
Compared to
the unlocked
gossip town
I came from,
HERE was watching out and lying
to protect family from shots
and whistles and discomforts of
walking alone.  As counter girl,
you had an island of safety
with lonely seniors and out-of-
work hang-abouts—mismatched
and grumpy allies—not strangers.
Compared to
the spread-out
square-dance town
I came from,
HERE was anonymity when
wanted and diversity, too, as
time swept life swiftly forward
full of adventure and freedom.
Decades and many cities passed
before I recognized I saw
with eyes and soul shaped under trees,
with heart shaped by my country town.



For Sumana's prompt 

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ City

*My First City was Worcester, MA.



My blog poems are rough drafts. 
Please respect my copyright. 

© 2018 Susan L. Chast




17 comments:

Sumana Roy said...

This is so beautiful Susan. You make me want to go there and enjoy that Time and the Place. Love the comparison that comes as refrain. "gossip town"...Hmm I know this :)

Thotpurge said...

So nicely structured... I do sometimes wonder if I'd have been a whole different person if I'd grown up in a tiny little village or small town...

Therisa's World said...

Honestly, Susan, I am too young to remember my first time living in a city. As I think, Richmond, B.C. was a city at the time of my birth. But, I do know how news travels in a rural community via the partyline phone. Nothing is sacred.

Old Egg said...

Nostalgia for where we came from but sadly when we go back (as I have done) it has changed too. We just have to accept as we move forward even the idyllic places of childhood have grown up too. But at least I keep those memories.

Magaly Guerrero said...

I just adore the details, the things the speaker notices... I found myself nodding a lot at what seems important to her, at how she describes city people and their relationship to each other--they aren't strangers, but grumps, anonymity is a choice... Choices are such a gift, especially in a place when having to keep up with the entire population all the might mean a bit of madness (all right, perhaps a lot of madness).

annell said...

I enjoyed every words. I like how you contrast your hometown and your new town, big city beat.

hyperCRYPTICal said...

So much wisdom in your closing lines Susan of how our birthplace imprints on our hearts and our souls, makes us who we are.

Cities do have so much to offer, allow us to spread our wings, but as you note, are places of danger too. Cities are also places of great loneliness if we are not deemed to fit. I loved working in the city but prefer to live in my little, well not quite so little, town.

Anna :o]

Sherry Blue Sky said...

When I was young I couldnt flee the eyeballs of small town life fast enough and loved the anonymity of the city. But as years passed, I came to realize what you expressed so perfectly in your closing lines.

gillena cox said...

I grew up country [in a place which has now advanced its pace so much it is now no longer country but fast bordering on city life].
And all of those essences in you home town i found lacking in the place i moved to when i left my slow paced home town.

Much🎀love

Kim Russell said...

I love the cityscape shape of your poem, Susan, especially when it's turned on its side! I also love the way the country town and the city are offset against each other. I love the human side in the lines:
'Pedestrians had their own roads
to art museums and bigger schools,
to part-time jobs and friends’ houses,
to movie theatres and stage plays'
and the busy activity in:
'HERE was excitement with book stores
and universities, public
transportation and libraries'.
I also love the phrases:
'the spread-out
square-dance town'
and
'with eyes and soul shaped under trees,
with heart shaped by my country town'.

Gillena Cox said...

Re your visit to my blog today, Happy you dropped by.
In this case Susan, we do own a lot to the "soapbox verbous campaigner" who later became our First Premier and then First Prime Minister and also introduced freed education into our society
I don't always add notes to my poems so i'm always happy for comments and in such cases as this when i can add a little bit moe on the poem's essence

Glad i sparked your interest Susan

much love...

Carrie Van Horn said...

It does seem that when we are young adults we want to stray from what we have known....the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. I love the progression and wonderful comparisons in your poem. The closing is true to how the heart is. A lovely write Susan, and I love the view you had. It sounds like your ventures as a young adult were wonderful!!

Vivian Zems said...

I love the comparisons and that feeling of nostalgia. You do the pros and cons beautifully.

kaykuala said...

HERE was anonymity when
wanted and diversity, too, as
time swept life swiftly forward
full of adventure and freedom.

Anonymity is the buzz-word. No prying neighbors to contend with and one is free to go anywhere unimpeded!

Hank

indybev said...

I identified with every line of this beautiful write. I, too, have the eyes and heart of the rural community where I grew up, and I, too, was enchanted with my first city and all it had to offer. It's only with maturity we put it all in proper perspective. Thank you for the journey!

Sara McNulty said...

Loved the comparisons between cities. I think we all get nostalgic for what was, but may not be anymore.

willow_switches: Pat🍃 said...

this is rich and many layered, so much to consider, from small town to big city, bright lights - and of course, so much to dip into - the sites, the smells, the tastes, the dangers and darkness, as well as the lighter aspects;
walking from one side of the street to the other, and there is so much to explore and consider - I really like how you've chosen certain elements, and made comparisons and reflections, which bring this whole experience to life

(just popping in casually to read and play a bit of catch-up; enjoyed this very much Susan)