We were like houses

My past in the suburban housing; mushroomed
from the meadows in the early sixties; houses side
by side, stately rows with playground streets; at first
the same, but after fifty years they’ve grown apart.

I still recall the first rebellion of a window painted
navy blue; breaking white monotony. We children,
molded from the middle class grew up as houses;
white, monotonous, and much the same; yet some

like Mikaela of the navy blue window broke the
rules of blond and dyed her hair in raven black. We
played the streets, we bicycled, and when we went
to school we taught ourselves by bullying the jungle

laws; survival of the fittest; preparing us for ladders
of society. Some of us were hedgehogs, learned
defense that’s better than to flee, other where foxes,
sly and cunning, others were like geese always ready

to take flight, but mostly we just passed the time and
watched the season changing, from magnolia to cherry
bloom, to summer petrichor and gilded fall. We played
in snow. Now I find myself in other neighborhoods —

both different and much the same…

From Google maps

From Google maps

Today Oloriel guests at dVerse, and challenge us to write poetry on suburbs. I grew up in one, that actually grew up around me, with a lot of children of the same age which I try to tell in my poem.
—-
February 21, 2017

21 responses to “We were like houses

  1. My experience with suburbs started when they did–in the 40’s–but I dig your memories. The international flavor & brotherhood in this group is second to none.

  2. I agree with Misky, this is a nostalgic treasure. Very sixties and very Scandinavian, which I love, Björn. I like that you are looking back with fondness for your suburban childhood, while celebrating rebellion in the navy blue window and Mikaela’s dyed black hair.

  3. White monotonous houses, learning to survive in the jungle and climbing up the ladder to success – I can relate Bjorn ~ I love the seasonal details, watching each come and go ~ It feels the same but maybe different ~

  4. I love that you share the details of your youth, the people, with their names, their rebellions. Your poem really made me feel emotional, and I loved the scenery in the closing verse, because I think every suburbs has a wild cherry tree, somewhere.

  5. The suburbs are synonymous with conformity, sameness. They can be poverty-stricken or middle class, but always the same. Except for the ray of hope with navy blue windows…

  6. Aha! My poem will seem very familiar to you, then! I enjoyed that you delved a bit into directions chosen, and your descriptive phrases were “spot on” as the Brits would say. A good read!

  7. Small deviations like a blue window does emphasize the expected monotony. That’s the problem with having an outside to show to one’s neighbors. If one were in a condo one wouldn’t see those windows. Interesting idea about children growing up as houses.

  8. I like the anthropomorphism, comparing the children’s characters to animals. We had pet names for each other, some good, some not so good; stinky, chunky toe headed, etc.

  9. What a lovely poem, Björn, filled with nostalgia throughout. I could see this where I raised my children as for my childhood, I don’t think it could pass for suburbia…just on the cusp of almost a suburb but really just a very small town. I love how you write and still marvel how you master the English language so beautifully!

  10. There’s a calm narrative to this, which I much enjoyed, iterating suburbia without subjecting the reader to ice or brimstone. (I could learn a few things from you …) For many of us suburbia is like the air in our lungs, what we grew up breathing. We become those houses …

  11. Sooo late to the posting and reading….Bermuda’s been calling me these last two days. Sooooo glad I took the time to read this morning. LOVE the idea of “we grew up like houses..” I can very much relate to that. And some of us were hedgehogs — smiling I am at this image and all it entails and brings to mind. My folks bought one of those white houses, in what we called in those days, a “subdivision” — which was really a neighborhood that sprung up in what was farmland, stretching the boundaries of city life further and further out. We rode city buses in to school, and we were so homogenous. You’ve captured these days and ways well, my friend.

  12. “both different and much the same” – in this line, I find the story of places and peoples. No matter how different they may seem on the surface, a common thread binds them.

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