The old house is gone, the city destroyed, can you see it, no? Hey, it's ancient Mesopotamia, thieves digging in the ruins, what hasn't fallen ready to fall.
I wake up cold and dreaming about the fruit cellar and the girls who lived nearby, not necessarily in that order.
The girls lived on Burlingame, the fruit cellar was on Gramps side of the basement and ours. In the time in the mind when there was no place else. Built from furry thin planks of pink brittle wood. The girls were flesh and blood.
The cellar nailed together with shelves and empty apple crates, left from another era, when the family grew celery in the muck a hundred years ago.
The girls are beautiful as ever.
Old Detroit is gone. The houses, churches, schools, stores, factories, four fifths of the population, trees, gymnasiums, neighborhoods, gone, burnt and bulldoozed--an archeological site now of a destroyed city, but destroyed by what?
When was the hurricane, did it run out of water, a meteor perhaps, a war, yes, a war, a disagreement between management and labor, the entrepreneurs and the refugees in their eternal struggle, that will do it, or
a trade embargo, Volkswagons, them Japs, capitalism baby, poor leadership, nobody with the guts to call it like it is, the Spirit of Detroit, a golden statue once reaching out to everyone, now to no one, the Promethan myth abandoned, the Lions lost,
a difference in race and expectations, the legacy of oppression will not be denied, the intractable vision of men hanging from moss laden trees for crimes they did not commit, the death of the last emperor, the fire next time, the invasion of a foreign tribe, they will ask: what led to the end? And nobody will answer. The truth is always the scariest thing to tell.
You think there is no repercussion from injustice even if you did not commit it yourself and nobody admits their guilt? You think the group is any different from you or me? Detroit does not say so.
The tribe survived but moved elsewhere. The occupants fled, the pretty girls bred, can you see it, can you see it? History is never new except to those who experience it.
Every family has one such home that survived the decades, along the banks of the river, by the fields and ruts, the blending stopped, they formed a protective barrier, the incursions had to end when the girls were threatened, the residents burned the roofs over their own heads in a town without pity. No, there was no logic to it.
The poppy fields of the Golden Triangle invaded and took over everything South of Eight Mile Road. Those who remained ate each other.
We were safe for awhile. The walls were made of brick, but brick can't hold back resentment, greed and ignorance. Do you see it yet? Do you see your old house leaning and exhausted before it fell? Who lived there with you? Where did they go? Does anyone see the warning to tell the other cities and their naive occupants?
I saw the wind blow the snow over the frozen mound all along the side drive. The bricks filling the fruit cellar where we built our rocket ship and went to the moon. The planks crushed in the hole in the earth, the oil tank rusting, the work bench I made with Gramps beneath it all, a century it lasted, a mere speck of time, but the story goes on forever, no different than a thousand cities a million times over, see, see, see it now but only in the mind's eye.
It all jumbled together, it cost so little and then was worth nothing, time can't be stopped, pride can be squelched, that's the lesson, some faith has to go on, if not the one we knew, maybe something close, maybe something not like it at all, maybe the faith of our fathers, maybe not.
An eye, an ear, a sight, a smoldering scent, an observation, an early encampment along the strait, an excursion, a pass into the future, a loss, a tear, an exuberant pledge not to have it happen again, a lost cause, a new vehicle, an appeal, an adaptation I ask,
The last re-union of the old Detroiters before we all disappear like all the rest satisfied that it's all right. No matter what. It happened exactly the way it had to, the old city had to fall, they warned us, oh, they warned us of our mortality each and every day, we dispersed like the Anasazi to the wilds of Livonia, Farmington, Royal Oak, Warren, Troy (no less) Bloomfield Hills, Wattles Road, Grosse Pointe Farms as if another world has been born whose time will come, but where is New Detroit? Where does it rest in our children's minds?
It was nobody's fault and everybodies, but none are innocent who come from Old Detroit. It's gone but we are not. But when we are, will they learn what we know?
We come from a city that lost itself. We probably would have stayed. Our message is simple: do not do what we did, but we don't know what we did and there is no one to tell us and no one to listen to so painful a cry.