Iuka

Home for me is the tunnel of trees that leads me back to my house in the woods
It’s one of the only quiet areas in the area
A last mix of students and families and professors
A last enclave that hasn’t totally given up to the encroaching off-campus
A young community of crushed beer cans, trashed porches, loud parties, and houses in disrepair
Forgotten by landlords who could not care less about the home

This home, built 100-or-so years ago, has seen a lot of change
People have died here, grew up here, moved out of here, and now here it is,
a beautiful but quietly breaking house
Full of love and friendship, bright colors and stain-glassed windows
But built on a crumbling foundation, shot through with leaks, with mice, with mold
getting worse every year

This old home that used to be with families
now sees new kids each autumn
Like the neighborhood, the home has seen itself separated from people who saw themselves in it
who wanted to live and die in it and build in it
Instead it sees transience and decay

It sees itself becoming a liability,
a relic not worth rebuilding,
an old house in the way of change
It sees itself following the path of the homes from across the way
The homes that turned into rented houses that turned into emptied foundations that turned into the apartment buildings I stand in front of now
Big and brick and gray
no soul, no home, just containers

Even now as I walk along the crumbling brick, I see trash among the oaks
I see crumpled beer cans in the weeds and streaks of red paint on the roofs of the stone bridges
The streets and trees and parks that used to feel so real and beautiful
Can sometimes only highlight the neglect

My place here is just one small drop in a strong sad tide
that will strip this ravine of the years and the people that made it
By May I will graduate and by August I will be gone
No matter where I go I will always love my years here
But I can’t help but hurt about not doing enough to stand-up for the community, and the house, and the park that saved me so many times

originally at https://medium.com/@coreykeyser/iuka-f24e92e8ac1a

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