This Urban Life

by Beth Bernstein

The pedestrian sign
reads Walk. Run. Ride. Skate.
McLuhan would have been proud.

There are no front porches
in my town.
Only ladies with broomsticks,

ski poles and baseball bats
to beat off biting dogs,
keep the front doors closed.

The roads wind along through
the mountains, mile after mile

of the same reshaped earth,
a veneer surface
that cost us millions of dollars

but after years of hard labor
we are concerned only with how well
they get us where we need to go during rush hour.

We have forgotten the lost trees and the soil,
never mind the territory we ripped away
from the mountain lions, brown bears, deer.

Our children know only how to plant trees
for charity and see animals in the zoo.

We took their land, moved them out
called it relocation. Like the Native Americans,

we hunted them down only when we needed them,
or when we didn't, and they came too near.