Poetry Prompt: Change / Don’t Change

This week, my Tuesday prompts group used today’s 2021 April PAD Challenge prompt from Writer’s Digest.

This poem has been rattling ’round in my heart and head for a very long time, literally twelve years in the making.  Today it finally tumbled out.

Thank you for reading it.

Change / Don't Change

I look at Google Maps
To revisit childhood past;
Plunk Streetview Man down
In front of 8510,
And set the time slider
Back 12 years, to 2009,
And the preceding four decades,
Before it was all erased.

Elizabeth Wilson's house,
Back among the pines and cedars.
Sixty years between us
Makes for an unlikely friendship.
I braid her antique doll's hair,
While she braids mine.

There stands the school,
And the playground,
The old Orange Hall,
And Doris's yellow house
Where she sits on her veranda
And watches and waits to scold.

If I angle it right,
I can see the other landmarks --
Houses of people whose names I've always known:
Charlton; Briggs; Livingston; Burton --
And the ancient mountain smiles benevolently
Upon those sheltered in its valley.

But if I angle it wrong,
I can see the machines,
And the unbearable piles of corpses
Of hundreds of trees who
Watched me collecting flowers,
Cheered me chasing squirrels, and
Listened to me singing silly made-up songs,
Sighing back to me in companionable whispers.

Looking at 2021,
It's all gone now, of course.
Obliterated by progress:
"Must get to Fredericton faster."
A highway overpass
My childhood's grave marker.

About the author

Karen J. McLean

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  • Karen, wow–this was worth the wait.

    I don’t know where to start with a response. I love the use of technology as a literary device; the time slider is powerful. The specific memories–Elizabeth, Doris, and the others–gives a sense of credibility; this isn’t just an abstract memory. The angling it wrong brings deep sorrow, and the final stanza’s justification falls woefully short of the mark (the justification–not your writing).

    In what is becoming sort of a pattern, your poem for today sort of runs along the same tracks of mine. Scary.

    Thank you for sharing this!

    • Tim, thank you so much for these insightful comments and your close attention. It means a great deal to me.

      And yes — our themes do tend to run along parallel tracks. Birds of a feather?