Cities don’t grow on trees

but this one grew from grass roots, sprouted

like a shoot in brick and stone:

what still stood after wood burned

left skeletons with eye-socket windows for buildings

that’s when they learned not

to construct wooden sidewalks

and barns for kindling

Beneath the ashes, though, seeds lay

dormant, waiting

for the rippling heat to banish any latent

memory of snow, for fire to wake

the earth and heaving, groaning through

birthing pains, she bore her

latest crop of clay

baked into bricks in a kiln

hotter than midsummer day, than even

the surface of the sun’s shadow

That is where the city began, baptized in fire

but flames woke more than seeds, stirred

a different kind of clay

the kind with blood running through it

quick to boil,  easily shed

by excessive force or hate run riot

Too much blood has watered the wasteland seedlings

growing in the cracks of this city

they grow bitter as weeds

where others forgot them, sunflower seeds spilling from

a bag or an apple core tossed aside, they

push up roots to buckle

sidewalks like frost

like fire bending metal

like they remember the heat of this city’s birth.

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