First Steps

the cobblestones trip me
as I look up at everything at

once I could remember
the route back to my front door,
I could concentrate on walking,
developing some grace
to carry me through uneven

streets look different here
paved sometimes familiarly
with asphalt but usually with

these bricks have been here
how long? and why
are these streets still
rough stone? is it
the labor of pulling them up
and paving the street smooth?
more labor than
my awkward steps?
or is it an aesthetic thing for

an old city is new to a girl
used to prairie towns
built in a year
and an eastern metropolis--
nothing older than

a few centuries ago
the city I just left,
now several times
bigger than this much
older city, was a wooded island
called Manahata, never seen by a

European cities slow me down
with their historically
uneven streets--
I want to know,
do they replace the bricks?
they must keep them out of

pride in a deep history is new to me,
and I can’t help wondering
as I pass buildings built before
concrete conquered cityscapes,
when cobblestones were practical,
did James I
and his mother Mary,
Queen of Scots
stumble sometimes
on a brick
out of place in the Royal Mile?


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