Tale of Two Cities (A Short History of Redlining)

“God made the country, and man made the town.” -William Cowper
I. Hartford, CT                                                                    II. West Hartford, CT
44 stokes the contrast:                                                     Over the railyard, the colors
stitch work of a metropolitan,                                           change. Saturation returns.
its red thread fraying.                                                        The city limit is demarcated
Start in Clay Arsenal,                                                         by a small green placard:
at the Pentecostal Church                                                welcome to. Start at
of Deliverance housed                                                      the intersection of Prospect;
in a reformed plumber’s guild.                                         its brownstone retainer wall
There will be a tow yard                                                    ebbing shape like tide—
and a sun-licked billboard                                                 a handsome Tudor tucked
for cheap beer adjacent                                                    behind gingered maple,
the market named for paradise—                                     blinds drawn—someone
bars on the windows                                                          is home. Ivy blooms down
and a panel of plywood                                                      a telephone pole; the sidewalk
to cover the boot-busted sidelight.                                    is bone-white and new, swept
There’s an empty lot with new trees                                 of leaves by city ordinance.
forced into the earth—bald patches                                  Dogwood frames a plum-red
of grass and half-eaten cinderblocks,                               colonial with three chimneys
Styrofoam containers from Popeye’s                                and a circle driveway—lawn
and serrated trash bins                                                      so green to communicate
growing faster than the new trees.                                    a warning—running up to
The bus stop is defaced:                                                    the University and loft condos.
I can’t breathe. Storefronts                                                There’s the Whole Foods where
with windows, but no one                                                   a de facto mom’s group meets
to look out—men sleep                                                       in the dining area on weekdays
under bent awnings,                                                           after Pilates—nursing fresh-
tents of plastic or newspaper,                                            pressed juice or infants in
next to abandoned cars                                                      Nuna strollers. And there’s
and shoals of hubcaps                                                        an idle church adjacent,
or old tires. Another                                                             its front door leering down 44,
church with a pleading,                                                       the priest has just changed
hand painted welcome:                                                       the electronic message board:
God is rapture.                                                                     Life isn’t always fair,
God is salvation.                                                                  but God is.




About the Author

Matt Vekakis is an MFA student in poetry at the University of Florida. Their recent work has appeared in Southern Humanities Review, Appalachian Review, Welter, High Shelf Press and Up the Staircase Quarterly, among others. Matt also serves as EIC of The Lunch Break Zine—the literary companion of Out to Lunch Records.