a world

Frankford: A Word Picture in Black and White.

 

The elevated train clanks and screeches above the empty stores of Frankford.

The neighborhood is supposed to be announced by a small, triangular park: Rose Moss Park. Both Miss Moss and that park have been long forgotten.

I know I am close to the dirty fingers of Frankford, streets running every which way under the El, when I see the tent city of homeless at the beginning of the hill.

One day, homeless folks have their tents up, like they are camping in the Rockies; later in the day, the police are there with flashing lights cleaning things out. Then, it will only be a couple of days before the tents are back in place. A battle for dignity that happens in every grey/black city in this country, this blessed help-your-sister/your-brother America. But no, take down the shelter. Take it down.

Frankford used to have stores running up and down under the El — men’s clothing stores, for when they had to dress for jobs that no longer exist. There were household goods stores, women’s cosmetics, food of every country represented by the residents of Frankford. Now there is a pizza place and, of course, a dollar store.

Oh, and there is a tie-dye shirt store. God knows how that stays in business. Maybe because it is the only color in miles. Frankford, otherwise, presents itself in black and white.

Most of my co-workers avoid the streets of Frankford at lunch. I push myself out into the noise, into the mess. I am enticed by what used to be, what is now, and what might be.

I am a dreamer and I like grit.

Churches are everywhere. Black gates block the entrances. Care for the stranger, your brother, wash the feet of your sister, but first go down the block to another church.

But now, our patients are overdosing on opioids, fentanyl; they are empty of respect, they try to fill the void, numb the pain. Four of our patients OD’d last week. Our quality assurance person flips through their charts. Is there anything else we could have done? More like, can we be held liable? That is the dirty truth. Truth is, we are all complicit.

We are as involved in these deaths as if we handed out these killers, stretching our hands to share their contents. Like communion being given on a Sunday, on every other block, every other train stop, between the seats on the buses.

When I walk down Frankford Ave, patients hug me, shake my hand, eager to tell me their latest news, promising to come in for a therapy session as soon as they hear from disability, their aunt passes, their nephew, who was shot, is laid to rest at 23 years old. What does the long-winded snake of therapy do for any of this? It doesn’t fix horror.

These are real connections to fellow human beings that I never would have made except for Frankford, despite all its killing power and times of silent, brooding depression.

Lord, see these people.

Beat on the drum.

Beat on the drum.

For beauty.

***

Marie Turco is a poet who branches off into prose and prose poems. Honestly, poet is the word that best defines her. Trying to cut out the distractions as much as possible but needing to pay rent, she is also a psychotherapist.

***

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