Since finishing Hannah Coulter (my goodness YES I am still talking about this book), I have been thinking a lot about place, and the places that have made me. One of the biggest of these must be Chicago. I grew up when I moved to Chicago. I was truly on my own for the first time in that city of the Big Shoulders. I made the transition from starry-eyed college girl to a woman who had, for the first time, fallen flat on my face. With that skyline as my backdrop, I picked myself up and tried again.
I met my husband in Chicago, on the steps of the Cathedral. On the threshold of my life, I shook his hand and looked into his earnest blue eyes. I said yes to him and our life together, in Chicago, not many steps from the place we first imagined a future that might hold us both.
Today’s poem is one from Carl Sandburg, the Chicago poet. This poem, titled Halsted Street Car, seems particularly apt, since the first place that Atticus and I shared as man and wife was a small (I do mean small) apartment on Halsted Street. Our first child, the one we never got to meet, was created in that apartment on Halsted Street, and as such, it’s as much a part of me as any place I have lived.
HALSTED STREET CAR
COME you, cartoonists,
Hang on a strap with me here
At seven o’clock in the morning
On a Halsted street car.
Take your pencils
And draw these faces.
Try with your pencils for these crooked faces,
That pig-sticker in one corner–his mouth–
That overall factory girl–her loose cheeks.
Find for your pencils
A way to mark your memory
Of tired empty faces.
After their night’s sleep,
In the moist dawn
And cool daybreak,
Tired of wishes,
Empty of dreams.