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Using the Uber app in the city of brothers


Flower Box

Advertisement for Uber, The Thinker, my sister and daughter and all things about love in Philadelphia
My loving sister who lives
in Philadelphia
first city of America
            city of a thousand trees and
slim pretty streets
where window boxes
spill with flowers and 4th of July flags
and people gather on pavement chairs
tipped out doorways
over high front stairs
terrace-house knees negotiating
close as the tree limbs
speak brotherly love
drink sisterly wines
on hot Friday nights
My sister I was saying
has the Uber app
on her phone
we used it twice when we visited
right now I’m started…
she Uber’d
to get us round the corner
me, husband Lloyd and grandson Caspar
from Parkway Apartments
art deco with a hint of gothic flair
in Logan Square
to terrace house digs
in sweet Meredith
heart of the arts quarter
where Rocky at the
steps of the Philadelphia
Museum of Art
is hot property
the city’s latest addition
to its statue collection
            as I was saying
enlivened by our
exciting reunion with
our daughter Alex
and granddaughter Olivia
down from Canada
on that first evening at my sister’s
we and Caspar wafted one with the lift
that once carried
education board people
out to the marble edge of Winter St
and elegant
where classical trees
loftily mind
the people below who
stop by
Rodin’s ‘The Thinker’
and those mesmerised
by the art at the Barnes Foundation
who come out bearing
Cezanne apple and pear
candle fruit mementos
that make fools
of customs officers at airports  – ha!
and bring postcards of Matisse
and Picasso riches home
for mantel pieces
            High classical trees that cool
people who visit
the science museum
of Benjamin Franklin
in the summer season
and who loll on the grass
with homeless people
like lionesses
while grand children
play on the swans and
the giant First Nation people
at Logan Circle
            but re my sister and Uber
our light toes had barely
reached the pavement
our hearts one
with the hot American night
when our Uber appeared
a black Chevvy sculpture
a mere click of the fingers
from there to here
Denzel Washington quipped hubby later
was the driver
tall as a Pennsylvania night
and lustrous as a god
we were fated to be in possession of
for a moment
gave reason
to later muse
on the panoply of
guiding trees
the dark bronze sculpture
in Rodin’s Gallery garden
we would pass several times
on our walk to Wholefoods
organic supermarket
where they employ disabled people
and yellow shopping bags have LOVE
in big letters
a take on
the famous Love sculpture in the Love Park
on the JFK Boulevard
by the fountain where the kids
all rush and play
in the heat of July holidays
            It was ‘The Thinker’
got me humming
through the week
that came
the plaque explained
on close inspection
is the top small figure
created for
a sculpture
of Dante’s
‘The Gates Of Hell’
then the artist
enlarged his expression
to personify all inspiration
behind creative thought
an answer to my old question
about what’s behind all things poetic
bizarre this driver
for a moment
personified the revelation
that love is in motion
here in Philadelphia
            In the back of his Chevvy
our stuff and my family
tumbled about the leather excitedly
from the front
I marveled the way
of our limo-trained driver
the pay-later scheme
completed the golden mile
next day
we returned from being out
to find Caspar’s
red running shoes
glowing on the doorstep
like Cinder’s slippers
dropped in the getaway
returned by Uber
a surprising
thing for a taxi driver
            But Uber is like no other
fits well in the city of brothers
where Penn the Father
devoted to St Paul
and words of
love and freedom
said: ‘Love is above all;
and when it prevails in us all,
we shall all be lovely,
and in love with God and one with another’
hail to Philadelphia’s far walking father
and my sister, daughter, grand daughter
husband, and grandson
and the Uber driver and trees and art
in Pennsylvania
Side note:
America’s first city named by
its far-seeing owner
William Penn who dreamed it all
devotee of St Paul
and America’s first Quaker
set the hopeful standard
for extravagant love
his city plan and libertarian principles
inspired Benjamin Franklin
Thomas Jefferson
the Declaration of Independence
and the American constitution
invited British and European persecuted
Hugenots, Mennonites
Amish, Catholics, Lutherans, and Jews
in time art lovers with Penn’s Oxford
people with money
got persuaded
made bronze statues of mothers and fathers
heros and heroines
planted them like muses on
the ridiculously clever
town planner’s
broad plazas

Tess Ashton

Tess Ashton is an Auckland poet who introduces poetry to the people she works with in her role as a Training for Work program manager.

Window box image by Shutterstock.

Topic tags: Tess Ashton, modern Australian poetry, Uber, Philadelphia



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Existing comments

Thanks to Tess. I'm thinking of Denzel Washington in "Philadelphia", one of my very favourite movies.

Pam | 29 September 2014  

Tess, that is a lovely evocation of my home town. Thank you.

Barbara | 30 September 2014  

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