Some call it Flatbush
some say Ditmas Park
or Prospect Park South.
Whatever you call it,
When I walk down the street, I carry with me
The high-rise developments
built by those with eyes on the prize
of park views, subway access,
bougie bars, groceries and cafes.
The things that push old renters out
for new renters like me
who have their eyes on them too.
The Punjabi man who paves the sidewalk
outside my three-bedroom apartment
so he can pay for the one-bedroom he shares
with his wife and children
and maybe a stranger or two.
The absence of white people on the street
until six o clock, when they leave the subway station in droves
to reach their apartment
and become absent from the street once more.
The black boy watches the Q train go by,
missing his shift at Bed Bath and Beyond,
because a white policeman does not believe he paid his fare
and called for a back-up of five to watch
while he takes the boy’s wallet.
I’m not white, but I’m new
I bring change, but I shop local
I moved here for the rent,
but don’t want anyone else to lose their apartment
so somebody like me can move in.
But somebody like me did move in.
And in a few years, I might move
because I lost my apartment
to somebody like me.
When I walk out the door,
I give my neighbors a hello
chat about the weather
help them carry bags up the stairs
give flowers when a loved one passes.
The exchanges make us closer
but as the neighbor, comfortable on the street
chatting all day with those who walk by,
recently told me, when I’m out on the street,
I look like I’m in a hurry.