Sunday Stew: Seattle, The Emerald City

by Nikkita Oliver

 

Seattle,

the Emerald City

 

The emerald is a stone of love

It soothes and heals the heart

Home is where the heart is

In this city I live somewhere

 

Between    

home and heartbreak

hope and pushout

the haves and have nots

 

Between

the clouds and weed smoke

 

Dispensaries replace the brothas on the block

As cranes scrape the sky of her glory

And it all rains down in our faces

The wet will not quench our thirst

Our mouths go dry asking

 

What story will they tell

When we are all gone

What totem poles will they erect in our places

What streets will they name after our heroes

What colors will they paint the crosswalks

When the city has faded pale

How much will they charge us to visit

Museums telling our stories in voices

We do not recognize

This place anymore

 

No one wants to leave their home

But especially not without

the promise of return

So we stay

In the shadows of buildings

They won’t let us in

But they won’t let us go

With the things that we built

Without us

This city is just a place

And not a home

 

Home of the braves

City named after a Duwamish Suquamish Chief

City built on stolen land

My home an occupied territory

This city a monument to destruction

A homage to genocide

Our home hallowed bones of ancestors

I’ve never met but I feel shaking

An underground city no longer on fire

But still burning with injustice

 

And Big Bertha

She will not work today

Will not gnaw at the bit

Will not penetrate sacred land

This drill will not leave us

A viaduct to freedom

She will not make meal of our medicines

And pretend it does not hurt

To sale off our bodies

On the auction block of industry

In the name of progress

 

How do you build a free way to liberation

On the backs of people

Too occupied with survival

When we can barely pay rent?

 

How do you reclaim a place

That was never yours to begin with

 

How do you wrap your ill-fitting mouth

Around a name you cannot say

Without changing it?

 

How do you tell a story

So honest, so authentic

The truth is undeniable

And the lie has no place left to hide

And you, even you, are

Transformed for the better?

 

How do I tell a story

In this city where I live somewhere

Between

victim and villain

occupied and colonizer

pushed out and gentrifier?

 

This city was once a rainforest

Growing greener everyday

Now we blow trees just to forget

The feeling of being unwanted

Of being uprooted and rarely replanted

So we never grow

as green should as we could

 

Emerald

first translated from Sanskrit

“Marakata”

meaning “the green of growing things”

 

And this city is growing greener

Everyday in the wrong way

And I can only think of one way

To change it for the better

 

To tell our stories

To let them fall

A waterfall of tears

On a people too dry to see their own ash

 

To tell our stories

To never give up or give in

To the silence threatening

To quiet our existence

 

To tell our stories

We will not make one dimensional relics

Of three dimensional beings

 

We cannot afford to lose ourselves

Our stories make us what we are

 

The world is not made of atoms

It is made of stories

A city is not made of buildings

It is made of people

People are made of stories

We build ourselves out of

Disappearing

Is a story we will not be

 

Home

 

Is where the heart is

And my heart is here

In the Emerald city

Somewhere between

Home and heartbreak

Is a gem–an emerald

Meant for so much more

Than some oligarchs crown

 

The Emerald is a stone of love

It soothes and heals the heart

 

What the mind forgets

The heart will not

And this city is forgetting

It will only grow as big as our hearts

And our hearts will only grow

as big as our stories

 

So let’s tell the best story we can tell

Our home,

Our hearts depend on it

3 thoughts on “Sunday Stew: Seattle, The Emerald City”

  1. Important piece to mark the anniversary of the wonderful Emerald, but to also commemorate the state of things. Claiming progressive needing to be radical I wonder if “Seattle” really cares. Sure there are some that do, but everyday people who yearn for opportunity feel more and more vulnerable as market forces drive them away. What to do “Seattle”?…. what to do?

    Liked by 1 person

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