Inside the Engine

Henry P. Bosse, "No. 201. U.S. Government Bridge at Rock Island, Illinois (High Water)," cyanotype, 1888, gift of Charles Wehrenberg and Sally Larsen, 2014, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

I’ve drank in hangers built to maintain the airplanes
my grandfather operated on,
under the eye of a traffic control tower that’s quiet now
in the after-effects of all those solvents.
Of course the suds in modern Stapleton bars aren’t enough
to turn my VHS memories to HD or to pinpoint
the exact cause of his environmental cancer,
just as the roads that cropped up where runways once were
run smooth, but always only to
a current destination.

The urbanization’s seeped into downtown, too,
where city officials razed the Highland brick house
where my grandfather was born and raised
in favor of a park beside a brewery, across the interstate
from the baseball stadium.
                                                Sometimes, after too much
summer family fun zipping in-and-out of DIA,
my father will pick up my son from my southeast suburb
and drive him beyond the well-kept streets of Stapleton
to where the structure once stood, just to swing
on those north-side swings. He’ll get a pint. They’ll walk across
the bridge to the game—my son, airplane-obsessed,
pointing them all out along the way.

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