Abandoned Detroit

Our poem of the week come to us via the Inside/Out Literary Project.

By immersing students in the joy and power of poetry and literary self-expression,
InsideOut inspires them to think broadly, create bravely and share their
voices with the wider world. Guided by professional writers and celebrated by
publications and performances, youth learn that their stories and ideas matter
and that their pens can launch off the page into extraordinary lives.


Abandoned Detroit (an erasure)

In the mirror of the man who cuts grass
a child once played. A mother
holding the skillet does not say a word.
A bird of a church is what our ashes have become.
The laces of sneakers say my name.
These are the stories we tell.
The records are a poem that cannot be
spoken. An imperfect shape that I can become.
Shining in the dark I shake your hand.
The dirt beneath the nails can’t be seen.
I touch it once before the house is gone.
Words become the sacrifice
and sorrow. The ground.
There is no door or no windows
on the other side of the city. Splintered wood never said
broken glass made a garden. If there were weeds
he would eat. The child learned through our mistakes.
To learn, memorize invisible scars to tell a story.
With a chair nailed to the walls that are ours to climb.
Abandoned Detroit is a poem
even if no one hears it.

Jamilla Russell
Marcus Garvey Academy
Detroit, Michigan