Sunday, April 12, 2015

DEAR HIMMEL PARK - April Poem #12

Today's prompt from There Is No Pilot was one I've often used with high school students in the summer program I used to teach in. It is to "write a letter to a landscape, structure, or scene you pass today." I didn't exactly pass Himmel Park, in central Tucson, on Tucson Boulevard a block south of Speedway; it was our destination, for an outdoor church service followed by a potluck picnic, and the cool, cloudy morning that seemed to promise rain (but didn't quite deliver) made it a lovely place to be.

I didn't know you had so much clover growing among the grass
until our little flower child began bringing me blossoms,
first one at a time and then by fistfuls. I didn't know
what to do with them, having no buttonholes.
I tried sticking them in my hair but had no bobby pins
either, or any other fasteners, so they just fell out.
Then I noticed an arch of perforations all around the toes
of each shoe, so I stuck them in those. They fell out of there
eventually too, of course, but by then the flower girl
had lost interest, had pinched her finger in a folding chair,
but that's not your fault, dear Himmel Park.
You didn't supply that chair, just as you didn't supply
the baseball that hit me in the eyebrow twenty or so years ago
and sent me from your green fields to the emergency room.
It broke the skin but but didn't leave a scar. My fault.
I was always a lousy catcher, always afraid of the ball.

What you do supply, dear Himmel Park, is green and peaceful space
with all the requisite amenities: playground, picnic tables, a small hill
where people used to gather on Sunday evenings to drum
back when we lived in the neighborhood, when we could walk there.
Maybe they still do. You don't provide a track around your perimeter
but people run there anyway. We used to do that,
and then do yoga in the grass to cool off, while over near
a big pine tree someone else might be practicing t'ai chi.
Sometimes on weekends a few middle-aged men brought
a croquet set, and I sort of wished they'd invited us to play,
but really, why should they? The anonymous camaraderie
you offer, dear Himmel Park, is so comfortable, so restful,
your very existence so inviting, so without expectation,
that you create that same calm acceptance in those who
come to you for exercise or rest, or just a space to breathe.


  1. Mark Twain and I both like the simplicity and honesty of this address, as well as its understated elegance.