Were shaped by the last great glacier before the hills were steamrolled
into parking lots, strip malls, and other such platitudes of cross-street sign posts.
Before observing the flattened neon glow, the hills of my home were forests and farms;
A rare sight, now. My father spent the better half of his teenage years, bent over,
rolling up yard upon yard of sod— and tossing those cream cakes of earth
onto the backs of pickup trucks. He told me the history of the land,
where our great city center mall now sprawled, heavy and worn.
Any bare patch of grass, stomped out by the green seed of commerce.
“A hog farm for as far as you could see. Nothing but pigs and shit.”
He was attempting to illustrate how much things had changed
between our generations. But I didn’t see much difference,
looking over the sea of stores and shoppers.
“Nothing but pigs and shit,” I repeated.
“At least it smells better now,” he said.
“Yeah,” I said— “but for who?”
My father took me on bicycle rides, snaking our way through forests of
oak, elm, and sycamore. Sitting by a slow creek that day,
digging my hands into wet leaves and red soil— There was a satisfaction,
knowing this land had been carved by ice and stone. And that these lands
are protected, not by neon glow—but by wooden posts, declaring the ground
a forest preserve; Ensuring that the pigs and shit of the town I lived
could only be daytime guests— and never hog farm residents.