Philadelphia from Belmont, hand-tinted engraving, 1873
ON THE ROMANCE OF PARKLAND
by J.C. Todd
Upstream, a shadow crosses the oxbow
of a river whose flood plains are silted
by paternal names of grant-holders.
Their slaves tilled the alluvial bottom
land, turning up flints and the bones
of Lenape. So much loss in the torrents
of plunder and order thought to be gain.
No wonder the broad plateau that sweeps
in folds to the river has gone fallow—
such sorrow breaks plow shaft and blade.
Better to carpet over the turmoils
that clear cut one people’s woodlands to plant
another’s prison farm, another’s estate.
Better to leave it a meadow of clovers
and broadleaves obscuring the blood-rusted
soil. To proclaim it parkland, to name it
Fairmount as if the elevation were
destined to display your picnic aspic,
as if the rhizome undernet were meant
to cushion your lavender cakes.
J. C. Todd is the author of What Space This Body (Wind Publications, 2008). Her work has appeared in the Paris Review, The American Poetry Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, Big Bridge, Wild River Review, and elsewhere. She has received fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Leeway Foundation, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, The Baltic Center for Writers and Translators (Sweden), and the Artist House at Schloss Wiepersdorf (Germany). Todd teaches in the Creative Writing Program at Bryn Mawr College and the MFA Program at Rosemont. She holds an MFA from the Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.
Author photo by Ellen M Siddons