south in green summer
As we've done before, and I've done before that, we point toward the Keweenaw - once copper rich, now dirt poor - the Upper Peninsula of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. North of Green Bay and the Fox Valley's fortunate, farmlands fall away quickly, and so does any evidence of recent prosperity. Forest and bog slide by a million trees at a time and we get into the big land of Tookaway. Took away iron. Copper. Silver. Took away first-growth timber and First Nation people. Took away everything of value. But the invaluable remains, flourishes. The rivers flow. The trees grow.
an old man walking
The railroad tracks have been removed from the lift bridge to Hancock; the taking away complete. Quincy smelter ruins of the past fight for the right to co-exist with condos and other ruins of the present. Wavelets of blue water make a chuckling sound as they nibble at foundations.
from a red stone stoop
In a nation that's just getting back to hard times, behold a place that's harbored them for a couple generations since the mines have played out. Behold the look of uncommon wealth gone away. We may all get used to it. But look at the handsome buildings left behind; left for the taking. Look at the epitaph of The Good Life. Look at the good folks fixing up in spite of churches out of business along with their parishioners, dance halls along with dancers, milliners with mills.
in an empty street
Even some of the taverns have closed, unlikely as that may sound. Even some of the best of them. Elegant emporiums of leaded glass and leather-backed booths, of mahogany and madness. A few remain.
the darkened windows
In the vacuum, after the great sucking sound of the removal of resources has subsided, come the artists and poets and other marginalized people with imagination, drawn by the low rent and high ceilings of the place, drawn by the Big Sea Shining Water so close at hand, the Woods, the Cliffs. Drawn by the very fact that this is a place away. They fix things, some. They fix more. It starts to get pretty nice. They win a few. They lose a few. If they win too many, they lose it all, because property values go up to the point they can no longer afford to stay. They find a new town, I suppose, and make it safe for realtors and re-zoning. In the meantime, Calumet is just the mix of heaven and hell that I like to visit when I can.
south in green summer
~ Ralph Murre
2001- 2009, Quill & Parchment