“The way they boxed us in here. Bricks and windows, windows and bricks.” –Willy Loman, Death of A Salesman, Arthur Miller
In my old neighborhood they tore down
an abandoned psych hospital for new town homes.
There was no big loss, the end of an era
polluted by horrific scenes of suicidal escapees,
children being committed against their will,
an inmate shot for dangerously wielding a pencil.
Close it down. Good riddance. And welcome
to my new neighbors, a hundred of them, perhaps,
an entire city block turned into living space
for middle class families, retired people,
and single professionals, some who would
become good friends, a fitting reward
for tolerating the tear down, the noise of
machinery and trucks, hammering, drilling,
digging, pounding, whistles and beeps.
They put trees in the parking strips,
sadly removed one huge tree, but mostly
windows and bricks and wood and a tall
roof line replacing the ugly concrete
and the aforementioned psych ward.
Now, in my new neighborhood, four
houses across the street on double
or triple lots will be destroyed to make
way for 32 single-family homes.
So, here we go again. But this time,
I’m conflicted. They’re all rentals,
the landowner clearly making a killing
and turning affordable housing into
properties where none of her previous
tenants could ever dream of living.
Conversely, when the project’s finished,
my neighbors might be more like me,
which might be a good deal for my family,
but not necessarily good for people displaced
and trees and animals displaced to make way
for another new suburban development
where people used to plant gardens
and children could run for miles
in their own back yards.