See our Best of Detroit 2020 winners.

American Life in Poetry 

The subdivision; it's all around us. Here Nancy Botkin of Indiana presents a telling picture of life in such a neighborhood, the parents downstairs in their stultifying dailiness, the children enjoying their youth under the eaves before the passing years force them to join the adults.

 

Geometry

All the roofs sloped at the same angle.

The distance between the houses was the same.

There were so many feet from each front door to the curb. My father mowed the lawn straight up and down and then diagonally.

And then he lined up beer bottles on the kitchen table.

We knew them only in summer when the air passed through the screens. The neighbor girls talked to us across the great divide: attic window to attic window. We started with our names.

Our whispers wobbled along a tightrope,

and below was the rest of our lives.

 

American Life in Poetry is made possible by the Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright 2006 by Nancy Botkin. Reprinted from Poetry East, Spring, 2006, by permission of the author, whose full-length book of poems, Parts That Were Once Whole, is available from Mayapple Press, 2007.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at letters@metrotimes.com.

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.

Read the Digital Print Issue

October 14, 2020

View more issues

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit