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Around and Around 

Tanya Davis' sharp thoughts about the Oval

click to enlarge WILLIAM JAMES
  • William James

Around and Around

Just past sunrise, black ice.
Careful bike ride so I don't slide.
To the common ground, so I can go around and around
bad radio music but I don't mind.
It's free and I call this free time
or I call it 'take advantage' or 'may as well' or 'exercise'
or how about 'wake up, it's morning and you're alive'.

My skates are from canadian tire
and they're not so graceful but I get by
in this city, ovalfull of strangers, we push and glide.

In a moment of cynicism, I see expensive generators nearby
I think of the energy required
the irony implied
but optimism makes me happier so I look back upon the ice
skates for those who have none
snacks for those who want some
community engagement – look, something's going right!

And I remember moments later that lots is not
and all the reasons I stay here don't erase what's gone wrong
what goes on
who's knocked off
'cause we can't talk
and apologies are hard
and so they're not offered up
save some formal statements some employees drafted up
someone moved to approve, someone motioned to accept
some dignitary signed it, then finally it's read
dry and emotionless, lest we let our souls in.

But we can't let our souls in to civic government
while pushing souls from the city we're living in
it's subtle, almost hidden
barely any conversation
let's go skating
while whole neighborhoods are left hanging
or displaced or outright razed
or slowly but surely overtaken

Hey wait, isn't this poem about the oval?
Yes, it is
about how we keep going around and around
and some things aren't changing

I like public engagement as much as the next person
and free skating is one of the better things to have been voted in
but what about schools and housing for our citizens
what about Halifax's recent developing
that hasn't been questioning
our lack of direction in
our human development.

Do we need conferences or discourse
conventions or recourse
evicting with brute force or bargains with open floors?
Do we need more condos most can't afford
or more options with open doors?
Do we tear down heritage and erect eyesores
turn away from heritage when it makes our eyes sore?
There's headaches for all for sure
but let's all welcome them
this city is for all here
and yet it's not so welcoming
it turns to profit not real developing
abandoning communities that are struggling
and it's too easy not to notice though we claim to care
but if we all were to share
what needs fixing
then we can all celebrate small victories

like skating rinks
like schools that don't get taken out from underneath
like citizens engaged because they have to be
saints didn't get their titles by taking it easy...

Halifax, you please me well
may I face up, then, to what is needed of me
even when I can't always tell
and for each lap I skate I will dedicate
more time
to learning, unlearning, and finding out.


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