Encircled by rocks and drunk men that have no teeth
Surrounded by cans and litter and people of the street.
Embedded in stone as thick as the heart of a man who once knew where the rainbow would end
Stands the tallest, most radiant, most beautiful thing I've ever seen.
A sunflower, reaching to the sunset, high above the smog of the city.
Few children can play without stumbling across
The drugs that keep their parents poor
Or the biting dogs that fight in pins and give their life only to risk it again just to lose.
It is frightening when the sun goes down and the music is turned up high.
High the same as emotions pumped with despair and flattened hopes
Of ever moving away from here.
Making ends meet with the power of green forces choices we'd never have settled with before.
Or taking chances that leave us naked and bare of the only thing that cant be taken away,
Only pillaged for a momentary gain
The dignity to show ourselves in the light of coming days.
All we know is there must be some reason that we keep pushing forward.
Maybe the only stone that holds us strong is the street beneath us
Where natures green breaks through with its own longing to be.
In the midst of gun battles, turf wars, street walkers and blood filled tears
Stands a sunflower reaching high above the smog of a weary hearted city.
Refusing to throw away what life it has left.
Refusing to hide under concrete and urban warfare.
It will grow.
It will stand.
Because it wills.
My grandmother remembers when the men where little boys
And the little girls with pickles and peppermint played hopscotch on the walk.
And Daddy came by to catch the end of the late night blues on an old hand radio.
It was safe then, to sit on the porch if it was too hot inside.
She has grown old and her days draw to a close.
Grandmamma tells me to remember the lessons she taught me on that porch.
Remember the sunflower she says.
The same flower that was planted some 30 years back and has come forward every year
To serve as a symbol that anything can grow against all odds
Against all reason
If we just believe.
What greater proof that the impossible can be
Than an urban Sunflower, standing tall in the morning sun, above the smog of the city.
There is one final Sunday dinner spread with an aroma masking the desperate times.
Fried chicken in rot iron skillets, hot water cornbread and greens,
Sweet potato pie and oyster dressing.
The aroma offers one small moment before a legacy is lost.
The sun will settle and the night will move in
Grandmamma will pass but we will never forget
The lessons of the sunflower in stone as
This certainty of her last breath sweeps across a grieving urban home.
This is poem is not based on my own experience but it is someone else's true story. The details in this poem are points shared with me by old friends and new ones. None of this belongs to me but I put it all together after being inspired by a sunflower growing a hopeless street. I was driving by a really bad neighborhood and saw a sunflower standing in the middle of all that chaos. I had to write about it.
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