The Neighborhood

There used to be a family-owned store
right there, on the corner where the bus stops;
and when I was a kid, they sold much more
than bubble-gum, candy and lollipops.

It was like stepping into a dreamscape
each time you passed slowly through the front door.

Unlike my house, where you could not escape
and the “you” that they expected got more
attention than the real “you” in progress,
in this place I felt good about myself,
and knew it was okay to be just me.

Even some parents knew the store’s address,
and helped the owners restock the toy shelves
so their kids (and others) could shop for free.

But the neighborhood is different now,
and they have torn down that wonderful store,
built up arcades filled with games that go “pow”;
it’s not a peaceful, calm street anymore.

And there’s no one on our block who’s older
that treats kids like they will grow up someday,
and that offers a supportive shoulder
for those times when the world seems cold and gray.

It’s not all that hard to be nice, you know,
or actually care how the world’s gone wrong
enough to try to help, and comprehend
that neighborhoods, like people, also grow,
and sometimes it takes just a simple song
to convert a stranger into a friend.

in memory of Fred “Mister” Rogers

27 FEB 2003

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