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Heidi Stephens


Patches of garden
line the porches and sidewalks
cultivating joy

This poem was inspired by gardening I did last summer and by the gardens of other people in the neighborhood. I decided to put some flowers in my front yard, and I was also taking walks through the neighborhood, looking at what other people had done with their gardens, and appreciating those efforts.

I live on the North Side. So I went to Hafnerís, in North Syracuse, and picked out plants and cleaned up the yard a bit. Iím a renter, and thatís something that renters donít often do. Afterwards I started realizing how much of a difference it makes in a neighborhood when people keep things clean and orderly, even if youíre not in the most beautiful home. Youíre doing a service to the community by taking care of your own little patch of ground.

North side Madonna
bears the child who reaches out
with his broken hand

This poem is about a statue on the corner of 2nd North and Court streets. I often drive or walk past the statue. I have a great affection for it.

One day, as I was walking by, I noticed that the right hand of the Christ child was gone, and I found something unsettling and moving about that. I first thought, ďWho would break the hand off of Baby Jesus?Ē Then I started thinking about it in a symbolic way, too, because the statue speaks for different aspects of the North Side.

Itís a landmark, a reminder of the Catholic presence on the North Side, and the sign of the disrepair thatís so common today. And then I was also thinking of it in terms of mothers and children affected by violence and poverty, and the potential that exists in the children despite it all.


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