Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Poetry Thursday - Progress?

Within about five square miles of my home there are three new "strip malls" under construction - you know, the little strip of four or five small storefronts, which usually contain nothing you're remotely interested in stopping for - a cell phone store, a quickie haircut place, insurance, cigarettes. Everytime I see an empty section of earth being sacrificed for one of these, or for another supermarket, or Walmart, or gas station, my heart just sinks a little. Why do we need all these places to purchase things? Wouldn't it be so much better to surround ourselves with more land, to cherish those few acres of soil and pond and greenery that are left to us? This poem of Mary Oliver's perfectly reflects my feelings.

What Was Once the Largest Shopping Center in
Northern Ohio Was Built Where There Had Been
a Pond I Used To Visit Every Summer Afternoon
Loving the earth, seeing what has been done to it,
I grow sharp, I grow cold.
Where will the trilliums go, and the coltsfoot?
Where will the pond lilies go to continue living
their simple, penniless lives, lifting
their faces of gold?
Impossible to believe we need so much
as the world wants us to buy.
I have more clothes, lamps, dishes, paper clips
than I could possibly use before I die.
Oh, I would like to live in an empty house,
with vines for walls, and a carpet of grass.
No planks, no plastic, no fiberglass.
And I suppose sometime I will.
Old and cold I will lie apart
from all this buying and selling, with only
the beautiful earth in my heart.


Blogger twitches said...

I always love Mary Oliver, but I don't think I've read this one before. Thanks for posting it.

Blogger jim said...

Now that I'm back in SW Florida, back where development upon development upon development encroaches ever further into the Everglades, it reminds me how much is lost in the business of buying low and selling high. Oliver's poem reminds us of other necessary priorities.


Blogger deirdre said...

I find myself thinking the same things about strip malls. Why, why do we need so many? We are a society based on consumerism and have lost touch with the basics of life. The poem is beautiful and sad.

Blogger Suzie said...

Now that's a poem! I honestly love it. A profound comment on materialism. Shopping malls can not replace the delicate crevices of nature. Beautiful work.

Blogger bella said...

Beauty of a poem Becca.. I really need to start reading some Mary Oliver!
I often wonder myself, where does the beauty go when stuff is built upon it.

Blogger Star said...

I'm right there with you, Becca. What frustrates me even more is seeing the strip malls built and then watch months turn into years as many, if not all, of the space goes unleased and sits empty...and for what?

Blogger ecm said...

I love Mary Oliver and haven't read this one. It's beautiful as always and timely.

Blogger pepektheassassin said...

This one was new to me, too! I am a fan of Mary Oliver as well. Thanks for the post.

Blogger GreenishLady said...

This Mary Oliver poem is a new one to me. So powerful. Those last couple of lines... the earth in my heart. Aaah.

Blogger Tammy said...

I live in the country and we fight to keep them out but they are creeping in. I would love vines for walls and a carpet of grass. Beautiful!


Blogger Madeleine said...

sadly where i come from, we are rapidly running out of land (hence the expense) and the smallest piece of greenery is eyed by prospective developers.
i wonder how long this trend can continue before the damage is so great and sadly irreversible, that we stop. so many parks and wastelands where we played as children have now been swallowed. physical memories lost.
this poem is a great one, and one i have not read before.
it sums the situation and our feelings toward it perfectly.

Blogger Superhero Activist said...

I'm always mystified by the scores of housing developments popping up. I find irony in the fact that many of them have names like Evergreen Estates, Powers Lake, Wedgewood...taking their name from the very things they destroyed.

The newest twist is planned community developments, gated communities that raze entire ecosystems to the ground and strategically place man-made ponds and lakes for aesthetic value.

This poem speaks to my outrage. I find the last lines sad, but telling.

thank you for sharing this

Blogger bb said...

i love the poem and stand by the sentiment except for one thing- I don't think I have enough paperclips bought to last me until death (panics) ;-)

Blogger jzr said...

We will have a new large mall built about 3 miles away in the coming years with "high end" shops, offices and condos. And it will be located at one of the busiest and dangerous intersections of town. Why, oh why dear Lord do we need this? I could drive to Richmond to get all that "high end" stuff just an hour away, to a city and leave this beautiful countryside at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains to remain peacefull and lovely.

I'm afraid our society is based on money, greed and who can get the most!


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