Anne Nygren Doherty 2020

  • Anne Nygren Doherty

What's Not There


What’s not there anymore haunts the landscape,

Even if it was torn down a hundred years ago.

The railroad to Sutro Baths still chugs;

Sutro’s mansion overlooks the sea;

The glass and tile of what once were baths

Still echoes with childhood laughter

Of those old enough to remember,

And swimmers long since dead.

The Cliff House burns and rises from the ashes,

Again and again, like the city’s symbolic Phoenix,

And the rollercoaster roars at Playland,

Snapping necks in the air above what’s now

A uniform condo village with stucco walls

Just showing damage from wind, sand and sea.

It too shall crumble;

By wrecking ball, fire or earthquake;

By human hand or Nature’s whim.

But the ghosts of it shall remain:

A lonely woman cooks a simple dinner in the energetic

Remains of a world famous fun house.

Eternal games play at Candlestick Park,

And cars cruise the Embarcadero freeway.

Thoroughbreds race around the Ingleside sundial

To cheering throngs, unseen, unheard by trick-or-treaters

Going house to house, door to door,

Dressed as ghosts, but ironically not believing.

Bi-planes fly into the wind at Chrissy Field.

Couples kiss in a slow dance at Winterland,

And dine at Ernie’s after.

Tired washer women scrub hard-earned dirt

From clothes in the spring at Cow Hollow,

Beside ghosts of cows who drink and moo,

Under tourists waking in the bargain motels

Built over the once essential fresh water source.

If those travelers look hard enough, they will see

That the Bay is still so full of ships,

Abandoned in the drive for gold,

That if they had the undying passion of pioneers,

The immortal courage of those who mine by hand,

They could walk from ship to ship,

And the ergonomic soles of their designer running shoes

Would never once get wet.