Wayfinding: A Poem

Photographs by Bahar Habibi

By Kathryn Gwun-Yeen Lennon

1. North End, Off-Ramp, Arthur Laing Bridge

Silence speaks for itself.

This city
where there is a city before a city
where bones and waterways sing under concrete and cobblestones and grass
where the steel slap clap of pigeon wings echoes off glass
where loneliness oxidizes iron in rain
where difference begets exclusion begets difference begets disgust
begets displacement begets confusion begets rust.

2. East Georgia Street, 200 Block

Street where young, upright, hipsters
carrying paper coffee cups stride
by old, bent-backed, seniors
carrying plastic grocery bags, shuffling
by construction crews who pound the ground.

Like barnacles,
the grandmothers and grandfathers
cling to habitat,
some more immune to erosion
than others.

They haggle loud
enough that I can hear them through the walls.

3. Powell Street, 400 Block

There are many ways to erase

Remove baseball players from home
Remove baseball diamond from park.
its grandmothers.

Remove benches from park,
bricks from walls.
Misplace names.
Forget their names.
Forget their names.
Forget their names.
Name it something historic.

4. Ladner Bus Exchange

It’s in the little words.
In the: ands, but, befores.
In the: all, is, ors.
In the: these blossoms are beautiful, but it’s only February.
In the: before there were planners there were planners.
In the: this city will be for you and you and you and you and you and you.

In the: it’s not about belonging or not,
it’s what you do with it,
with your place in it all, that is.