By K.T. Lowe
Chicago says we’re not Detroit
I left Nigeria in 1997 and tossed myself
on a beach full of gigantic automobiles.
I drove one straight into the ocean
where the wisdom of the masses said I would drown.
Instead, I hydroplaned to Detroit,
where the car collapsed at its natal place on
Jefferson Avenue: I’m home, kid, now get out.
No lighthouses in the Motor City, not even ghosts of them,
only roads endless, badly lit, numbered sequentially.
Damn hitchhikers can find their own way from here.
I loop myself in rust and coldpatch, start walking
297 miles to Chicago on foot, or a hundred miles more than
Harriet Tubman walked to Philadelphia. Her first freedom
on those streets now dark from time and loss – they lost her
to New York. Detroit will lose me to Chicago. God has lost
all of us to silence. But only Harriet is fulfilled.
Chicago, all cold-pressed fog from Lake Michigan
top floors ignoring the blackened dead lace El train
Chicago still holds title as the largest city in the Midwest
where all railroads converge before spilling their
fortunes in California. Chicago says we’re not Detroit.
Detroit says we’re only one fire away.
The car heaves as the factory tears her to her bones
she hums as her doors are removed,
her windows splintered
she sings as her frame is crushed
to a cube the size of a writing desk,
escape and refuge in her solemn groaning to sleep
she had driven to Chicago 28 times
and never liked it once.
KT Lowe was born and raised in the Detroit area, where she was active
with the Metro Detroit Writers group of poets. She has read her work
at the Macomb County (MI) Arts Festival, the Scarab Club, Indiana
University East, and the Detroit Festival of the Arts. Her EP, The
Basics, was released in 2006; a second EP is forthcoming. Her work
has been published in Third Wednesday, Chantarelle’s Notebook, Plum
Tree Tavern and Red Fez. She divides her time between Richmond, Indiana, and
Detroit, with one well-traveled cat and a stock of the world’s finest
chocolate on hand at all times. You can visit her website at www.ktlowe.com.
Cover image “The Yellow Line” submitted by Fabio Sassi from Bologna, Italy.