This poem is dedicated to the people of east Austin who shaped my life and inspired me throughout my twenties. I worked for an emergency assistance program in those years, among the children and grandchildren of Austin's African American community that had been purposefully segregated and impoverished by the municipal government's 1928 plan. As I read the plan, I imagined what a young woman living in the "shacks" would have seen.
“The topography is very rough and it is at present occupied by the cheapest type of negro shacks, whereas the property immediately adjoining is more valuable…” A City Plan for Austin 1928
Spring was her favorite time
Before the suffocation of summer
Watching the tentative green stems
Breaking through the dirt.
The way the mint plants returned
Each year so she could
Crush the sweet smelling leaves
Between her fingers
And bring them to her nose
To smell the crispness
That tingled in her nostrils.
She loved the buttercups that
Closed at night
And the daisies
That bloomed close to the ground
In white clusters.
She loved the tall grasses that grew
Behind her house and the way they
Swayed when the breezes blew.
Spring was her favorite time.