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Mary L. Gardner
Poet

 


Sculpted heroes stand
guard on the icy square where
cold blades dart and glide

I think Clinton Square is a wonderful resource to Syracuse and to people who visit the city. Visually it’s beautiful, and historically it’s wonderful, in terms of its relationship to the canal’s past.

When I’ve been there in winter, there’s something very stately and historic about the sculptures and monuments. If you’re skating and trying to stay warm, you might not observe them the way you would in summer, but they’re still beautiful.

When I was inspired to write the poem, I felt as though those heroes were enjoying the square as much as we were. Obviously it’s not rational, it’s imaginary—but I felt that they would have been pleased to be honored, and pleased that their space was being enjoyed and shared. If they could speak, what would they be saying?

Slow awakening
in the dark swirls below —
a lake comes to life.

One day, while sitting at a rest stop along Onondaga Parkway, I met a woman who was picking up trash that had collected on the shoreline and over a broken cement slab. I began thinking about how widespread might be the dreams for a “living” lake again—from governmental entities, the Onondaga Nations, the elderly with memories of how it used to be, those investing large sums to reverse its near death, even poets. I began to think about the lake as a metaphor for return of light, slow awakening which can occur in all kinds of settings, our personal lives, too. More and more my poetry now turns to passing reflections not always fully considered, just embraced and imagined, having to trust that there are inklings of wisdom there.

 

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