Zócalo Public SquareVirgil Avenue & Other Geographies – Zócalo Public Square http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org Ideas Journalism With a Head and a Heart Fri, 17 Nov 2017 11:00:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8 Virgil Avenue & Other Geographieshttp://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2017/11/10/virgil-avenue-geographies/chronicles/poetry/ http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2017/11/10/virgil-avenue-geographies/chronicles/poetry/#respond Fri, 10 Nov 2017 08:01:54 +0000 By Lynne Thompson http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/?p=89294 I It was a beginning like any other which isn’t quite the way it was. With beginnings, where to start? The house that was my first was a house that Daddy brought to Virgil atop a flatbed truck. He made his boys fix it to the foundation, then do whatever else was necessary to create a kind of permanence. I wasn’t there then. Then I was, driving Daddy through the old neighborhood where the house was, as memories tend to be, smaller than he remembered. II I was part of his vision of a wind-whipped Schwinn, part get-away, part stay-put, all pout and tough rules, Dragnet and Jack Benny. But I had a mind, and I began to pursue the life of it. Only half-present, only vaguely aware of something beyond presence. Of those years, I recall a boy—Henry—not as I knew him then, but the way I knew him when I was never to see him again, realizing too …

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I

It was a beginning like any other which isn’t
quite the way it was. With beginnings,

where to start? The house that was my first
was a house that Daddy brought to Virgil

atop a flatbed truck. He made his boys fix
it to the foundation, then do whatever else

was necessary to create a kind of permanence.
I wasn’t there then. Then I was, driving Daddy

through the old neighborhood where the house was,
as memories tend to be, smaller than he remembered.

II

I was part of his vision of a wind-whipped Schwinn,
part get-away, part stay-put, all pout and tough rules,
Dragnet and Jack Benny. But I had a mind, and I began
to pursue the life of it. Only half-present, only vaguely
aware of something beyond presence. Of those years,
I recall a boy—Henry—not as I knew him then, but
the way I knew him when I was never to see him
again, realizing too late his Armenian surname had
been thrown on a heap. You might ask why he never
told me. You might ask why everyone is always looking
behind; perhaps it is

III

…because it is all ephemeral by which I mean to say
every one of us gets suckered by the gods. California,

for example, the first of the fifty states to honor an insect—
a Dogface butterfly with a glide-range that can’t

outspread the topograph’s shifting, golden borders—
it’s bluish-black, sulfur-yellow insufficient to hoodwink

impermanence with its showy display in the chaparral of
the southern Santa Anas. Tribe: coliadini; genus: z. Eurydice.

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