Lani Steele

Neither Here nor There

It looks as though these children have hit
a gentle pause,  between a rough history
and a future that becomes sleek, expensive, and
unhinged from the ground it stands on.

It is warm, the children have hats against the bright sun,
light frocks, short pants.  They seem happy crowded into
the small cart; the baby burro endures the choke-hug of
Little Fanny, his mother is patient in her bondage to cart and
children.  We sense parents watching carefully from the hotel
veranda.  My great-grandparents are on a ship six years away,
bringing us to the Golden State.

How many of these youngsters in their young California
will live to see the Great Wars, my great-grandparents put
down roots, the hills sprout mansions, dusty trails turn
to freeways?  Who will remember how orange groves perfumed 
the air for miles, how the beaches were wide and clean, how
carts could carry children safely down sleepy roads, how
dreamers came here to live?

After the Edson Smith Photo Collection Arlington Hotel

Lani Steele is a California native who has lived in several countries. She is published in poetry (Dark Horse, Café Solo, three stand-alone chapbooks: Crowded with Ghosts, A Plague of Angels, An Undersea Book of Hours), mystery fiction (Red Herring, Mystery Weekly, and four Sisters in Crime Anthologies), and non-fiction. Retired from 53 years as an educator, she is happy to live near the sea in Los Osos, California.