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.



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 (, 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 [email protected].

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Read the Digital Print Issue

January 26, 2022

View more issues


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

© 2022 Detroit Metro Times - Contact Us

Website powered by Foundation