Hulky & afloat on seas of parking
the old Plaza
dated from the fifties—
sold Day Glo Ice & jelly shoes,
new Sweet Valley High & sour candy.
Our flock would flock to Woolworths,
buy 99-cent Wet & Wild to line our lips.
We wandered home between the glaze of windshields.
At McPhee’s, McPhee still measured feet
& ordered in our red saltwater sandals.
Someone got shot: McPhee died: I went to college.
Later I learned how it all was covered streambed,
The once-site of the Castro Hacienda.
Before that: Ohlone, bear habitat, and tule.
In the same spot, they built a new bad Plaza.
Cars inch by Bed Bath & Beyond.
Sometimes I dream up the old ranchero,
live oak, monarch, poppies, bears.
Sometimes I can hear the buried stream.
Someone’s made a point of some remembrance:
near the drive-thru bank, there is one tiny plaque.
Tess Taylor is the author of five collections of poetry, including Work & Days, named one of the 10 best books of poetry of 2016 by The New York Times. She has two new books of poems: Last West, part of Dorothea Lange: Words & Pictures, at MoMA, and Rift Zone.
Image: Mary Altha Nims, Shells in Seaweed, 1934. From the Cleveland Museum of Art.