The City That Won't Leave Him

PNNscholar1 - Posted on 11 June 2014

Tony Robles

Uncle Anthony still walks the streets of the San Francisco.  The landlords and real estate folks can’t get rid of him.  He walks with his leather baseball cap cocked to the side.  His movement is the vibration of blood and bone that makes the sky quiver.  The story of his life is burned and carved into his cane that rests at his side; like an old friend, supporting him, offering a bit of rest as he holds his own upon the rooted foundation of the city that gave birth to him.  Uncle Anthony with the dark shades framing Fillmore Street eyes and Fillmore Street visions.  Fillmore Street is written in his skin and in his walk and in his talk.  Uncle Anthony, in his mid-60’s, still looking young, still looking good.


Uncle Anthony, San Francisco born and raised.  The real estate speculators can’t get rid of him.  They see him walking down the street and watch out of the corners of their eyes.  What is he doing here? They ask.  While the speculators can only speculate, Uncle Anthony can only remember.  He can’t forget the faces of the people of his life, the faces of the city; the faces of the mothers and fathers who have passed on, the faces of the children and the children of children that are pressed into the mural of his mind. 


He talks to people that have touched the landscape of his life, remembering their words, their voices, the way their faces expressed what was in their minds.  He remembers the silence, the simmering spaces between dates and places that go unspoken.  He remembers the loss of skin, bone, voice—he sees in the shadows what remains.


The roots pulled from the ground whip across his mind and body like the wind as cranes go up into the sky, claiming the air we breathe, with no memory, no mind, no music—only the drone of sameness, of decay whose veneer is blinding. 


Uncle Anthony says he “don’t like San Francisco no more”.  But still, he can’t get away from it.  Fillmore Street still lives in his skin; the Mission and Chinatown and Bayview and Lakeview—all those places—still alive in his mind.  All the faces and names of  his life in the city are carved into his cane, the only thing offering him comfort as he goes from place to place in a city that no longer wants him.



© 2014 Tony Robles


Sign-up for POOR email!