To tell the truth, those brick Housing Authority buildings
For whose loveliness no soul had planned,
Like random dominoes stood, worn out and facing each other,
Creating the enclosure that was our home.
Long basement corridors connected one house to another
And had a special smell, from old bicycles and baby carriages
In the storage rooms. The elevators
Were used by kissing teenagers.
The playground—iron swingchains, fences, iron monkey bars,
Iron seesaw handles, doubtless now rusted—
Left a strong iron smell on my hands and in the autumn air
And rang with cries. To me it is even precious
Where they chased the local Mongoloid, yelling “Stupid Joey! Stupid Joey!”
Now I’ve said everything nice I can about this.
Alicia Ostriker, “Sonnet. To Tell the Truth” from The Little Space: Poems Selected and New, 1968-1998. Copyright © 1998 by Alicia Ostriker. All rights are controlled by the University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, upress.pitt.edu. Used by permission of University of Pittsburgh Press.
Source: The Little Space: Poems Selected and New 1968-1998
(University of Pittsburgh Press, 1998)