25th Trillium Award

Ancient Parking Lot Found on Mars; Poem of the Day

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Eran Ben-Joseph, author of the spectacularly titled Rethinking A Lot: the Design and Culture of Parking, recently wrote in the New York Times that ??parking lots are a 'found' place: they satisfy needs that are not yet met by our designed surroundings.?

Depressingly, he also says that, for many North Americans, ?parking lots may be the most regularly used outdoor space. They are public places that people interact with and use on a daily basis, whether working, shopping, running errands, eating, even walking? parking lots are one of the few places where cars and pedestrians coexist.?

Having walked across my fair share of driveways, intersections, highway medians, ferry decks, ditches, etc., and having driven across most of these too (don?t worry?I was a passenger during the highway median incident) I?m not so sure car/pedestrian ?coexistence? is a rarity.

But I digress. The title of this post, ?Ancient Parking Lot Found on Mars,? is a 2002 headline from the Weekly World News, and is quoted by Eran Ben-Joseph in his book. It should, in my opinion, be a mandatory writing prompt for writers everywhere.

Had Anita Lahey known about this mandatory writing prompt when she wrote her mesmerizing poem ?To the Parking Lot Beside the Bank at Wellington and Huron that I?ve Walked Through 7,000 Times,? she might have titled it differently and included some aliens. But even so, it is a striking piece. Here are some of my favourite bits:

You?re no hardwood floor. No loony lake. I bisect you
corner-to-corner, dodging bumpers and windshield glare. You?re a night sky
flaked with spit, gum and oil: a refugee

among the constellations.

And later:

                          You?re over in seconds.
You?re no woodsy path and you offer no fork.
You?re no tempting arcade. No meadow. No hall.

And finally (spoiler alert):

One autumn afternoon, the bank windows fall on you,

misplaced helpings of light. I stand at your centre, watching
the moon disappear. I try not to dwell.

On second thought, I?m pretty sure the aliens are there. The poem is from Spinning Side Kick (Vehicule, 2011), which y?all had better go out and buy, now that I?ve infringed copyright by reproducing so much of that poem.

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