Reimagining the Past of My Hometown
What if seventy five years ago the Army Engineers
had built a town with no Gamble Valley Rd.
leading into shacks with oilcloth windows,
a segregated slum? What if the city
and state had barred no one from an education,
home, or bathroom? What if no husband shot Ida
in her leg, leaving a wound that wouldn’t heal?
What if no fist broke Winifred’s checkbone,
what if she could have afforded to have it fixed?
What if no John Birchers burned crosses
on crab grass lawns, preached hate?
What if all us of had ridden in the back of the bus,
unpacking our sandwiches to share
with whoever was there?
Robin Chapman grew up in the Manhattan Project town of Oak Ridge, Tennessee; her childhood there is the subject of her ninth collection of poetry, Six True Things, coming out from Tebot Bach this spring.