By Shannon Gibney
They said the city was a testament to liberal pragmatism. They said that the gaunt-eyed brown children of the borderless had ruined it. And their vacant, earnest parents, always wanting more.
Let too many in, they will multiply. Overstay their welcome.
A park a seven-minute walk from each and every citizen. A giant polar bear bike propelled by fifteen cyclists racing through the neighborhood pursued by gangs of four-year-olds who just want to touch it. A po-mo theater with a modernist message. And taiko drumming on Thursdays.
Wintertime half the year well-spent if you use it to make art. And nooky. Shanties on frozen waterways, with karaoke and coloring books. Lake of the Isles on your lips every spring or summer afternoon, arm hooked through your best friend’s or your lover’s. Autumn almost gone already.
And one day, a man driving with his girlfriend and her daughter pulled over by the police; shot while complying with their request. One day a friend, a son, a brother, the next day nothing. And the next day and the next day and the next day and the next the city eats itself, until it finally produces something which calms us: DISRUPTION. DISRUPTION.
Shut. It. Down.
Withered white hands, wringing.
Our brown ones flinging.
Bikes and bike lanes and greenways and pedestrian-bike walkways and bridges.
The heft and weight of the wind in your palm when you step outside on April mornings. The sweetness of dandelions.
The strange relationship between the person you wanted to be when you moved here and the person you are now. Suburbanites moving into your neighborhood, the same place you moved years ago. Your anger, and your abiding happiness. A community garden on every corner.
The reasons why you stay.
…………………………………Everything that has come before.
The money. The pain. The pain of the money.
When we said, “Minnesota Miracle,” we didn’t mean yours. We didn’t mean you.
……………How many homes can you dare to encompass without the panacea
……………What courthouses, police precincts, schools, storefronts, stoops
will our footfalls take us to if we walk on without asking?
……………Will the parks still shine if they are burning?
……………And how much of you is us, now that we have claimed you? ■
“Minneapolis, Revisited” was first published in Under Purple Skies: The Minneapolis Anthology in 2019.
Shannon Gibney is a writer, educator, activist, and the author of Dream Country (Dutton, 2018), and See No Color (Carolrhoda Lab, 2015), novels which both won Minnesota Book Awards. Gibney is faculty in English at Minneapolis College, where she teaches writing. In October 2019, University of Minnesota Press released What God is Honored Here?: Writings on Miscarriage and Infant Loss By and For Native Women and Women of Color, which she co-edited with writer Kao Kalia Yang. She is currently at work on her new novel, Botched (Dutton, 2022), which takes on identity and possibility in the context of transracial adoption.
Cover photo of the 24th Street pedestrian bridge over I-35W in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in its final hours before demolition, on June 15, 2018. Photo by Tony Webster (Creative Commons).
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