Still Life with the Wrecked Monuments of My Youth

Photograph by Jose Padua
First, the hospital where I was born was
torn down. Next, the building where I
went to grade school was no longer
a school and the apartment that was
the first home I remember became a
condominium and its neighborhood
a place where we could no longer afford
to live. The movie theater where I first saw
The Sound of Music in 1965 became
a CVS drugstore, then a half-torn down
building waiting to be torn down completely,
and after it was torn down completely
became condominiums too. There is something
to be said for progress and the so-called march
of time as demonstrated by changes in the
architectural landscape but this is not it.
The place where I went to church as a child
is still standing tall and stately in downtown DC
but I no longer go to church. The campus of the school
where I went to college is still green and tree-lined
but I no longer go to college. This is not to say
I’m not spiritual in my own way, nor is this to say
I’m not still learning every day because I am,
and the wrecked monuments of my youth stand
magnificently in a place not far from where
air escapes atmosphere and distance becomes space,
their dimensions vivid enough to be perceived
with closed eyes, their colors brilliant enough
to be read between these slowly written lines.

-Jose Padua

Photograph by Jose Padua

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