Song with Day Glo & Jelly

Tess Taylor


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.