Night falls on Remington
There are no metaphors on this corner, tonight
As I pull up on Remington to the light at 28th
I see a family of four, Remington royalty since their antecedents left Coal Country — it never left them —
holding court in the street, displaced from even the curb as the fence surrounding the apartment construction site has encroached on their sidewalk.
The father, gray-bearded and pot-bellied, stands on the southeast flank, a precarious human guardrail against traffic coming up Remington,
puffing a cigarillo
The real threat is the cars careening across 28th, still driving like they’re on the Jones Falls Expressway — the thoroughfare built atop the river vein of this old milltown — where the younger man waits anxiously
From the way they stand, apart from the mainline of activity coursing between the women, it’s clear pops has abdicated any unearned patriarchy, and the son-out-law similarly knows his place.
Mom is thick from her ankles to her shoulders, strong wings tight by her sides, the tendons in her neck telling more about her life
than I’ll ever need to know
Despite this strength, and while it’s clear she’s not yet given an inch, it’s obvious from the way her daughter leans into her, gesticulating rapidly but precisely with her cigarette, that she’s on the defensive
Everytime she takes a step forward, closer to eastbound traffic — does she dare practice the Baltimorean art form of jaywalking at night on 28th? — the daughter outflanks her, stepping sideways, crablike,
to keep her hot face in front of Mom’s.
What Mom did wrong, I’ll never know, but the daughter is holding her to it
Everywhere, the next generation is bursting with uncontainable energy.
Whether it will implode or explode remains to be seen, but one week before my departure,
the dawn of a new era is imminent.