Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren is declaring a state of emergency in the city to combat the recent uptick in violence. 

The city has now logged a record 74 homicides this year.

-WXXI News, November 12, 2021

 

I wouldn’t take you to Chestnut Street 

where two men were killed in their apartment 

 

in the early hours of a November morning, 

or to St. Paul Street where a 20-year-old 

 

was beaten, or to North Street, where 

a teenage girl was found shot. I would 

 

take you to Highland Park, and we’d walk

past limbs of lilac bushes, and I’d admit 

 

that no, they don’t look like much now, 

bare twigs stuck in the hillside, and yes, 

 

we are on the edge of winter, the months 

when tires kick slush along the roadside, 

 

everyone’s head is bent against the wind, 

tattered Walmart bags and styrofoam cups 

 

fly loose in the mid-February snowmelt.

But if you come back in spring you would see 

 

how the buds of these lilacs unfold, how 

nobody can resist their sweetness in May, 

 

how we press our faces into the clusters 

like pollen-crazy honeybees. I would take you 

 

to the Public Market in August, and we’d buy

peaches on sale by the crateful at the end 

 

of the morning and and you’d see how a girl

in a stroller with a long red balloon brushes 

 

the backs of strangers’ arms in benediction,

how their faces are so beautiful in the light.

 

By Claire Buck

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