by Zaidaan Shibuya
Others Who Were Here
Others Who Were Here
by Cris Bruch

I walk in the footsteps of those that came before me. But the land is different now. The rolling hills flattened, the mountains melting, the streets straight and narrow. Now we only see what’s right in front of us, not the realm of possibilities that open wide like the sky above.

Have you seen the mouth of Heaven open on a cloudy day? That shining abyss that seems so inviting, yet unattainable?

These days that’s what it feels like – this Life. I wish that the Sun could reach through what clouds my mind and lift me to its great height. Swallow me in its warm and gentle embrace and let me dance through the soft and billowing clouds. Get some distance. A new perspective. On life. And living.

I feel stuck in this sphere of Seattle – South Lake Union – this city. Where the stadiums and skyscrapers cast their immense shadows, and the 12th Man and Amazon reign supreme.

That same Sun that beckons me, shines on so many places beyond this city. It is not contained in this fast-paced, liberal, weed-infested bubble.

I wish I could run to the mountains – find solace in their snow-caps and hide in their hills. I see them every day, stretched out on either side of my urban cell. They, too, call for a higher purpose – a different perspective.

They coat the coast in their glistening glory. An image of perfection. Peace. Solitude. Strength.

That’s what I need most in the hustle and bustle of this ever-moving, ever-changing city.

The Seattle I once knew is gone. It has been transformed into a tech-haven, a corporate castle. A breeze has blown through the construction-covered streets, wisping all the unwanteds away.

They can stay on the outskirts. We will reinvent this city. Come in carrying our orange-and-white umbrellas, proudly presenting our blue badges. Paint the city with our crisp, clean, colors – separated segments of the Old Center.

The one I knew. The one with a purple, paint-spattered elevator and a multi-cultural mural hanging above it all. The one where children ran and danced, crawling in concrete caves and fighting over the prevailing flash of light. So much color. So vibrant and alive. The New Center is gray. Dead. Gone.

But in my mind’s eye I envision that golden, sparkling circle. Like the Sun. The one with the beautiful horses bobbing up and down, like the clouds in the crystal sky. The one I would point at, tugging at my parents’ sleeves to stand in line and proudly hand over my ticket. I would run to find my favorite one and happily hop upon it.

These days were filled with wonder and adventure. A sensory experience I seem to have lost along the way.

Except when I see the Sun stretch its beams through the incessant Seattle storm clouds and emerge, bright and victorious. It never ceases to amaze me.

This piece is inspired by the photos above.

Beach Girl
I remember when I was little,
I could hold a seashell to my ear
And be transported to the ocean.
I could feel the vibration
Of waves crashing
On bumpy, barnacled beaches;
I could smell
The salty sea air,
Blowing through my curls
And brushing my skin;
I could almost make out the cawing of the gulls,
Floating high above the water
And flapping about for fish.
As I listened,
I drifted with the tide,
Ebbing and flowing with ease.
My eyelids fluttered,
Envisioning the calm waters,
With all of the energy
Bubbling beneath the surface.
How can such a world
Be contained in such a small shell?
How can the mighty roar
And rock of the ocean
Fit in the spiraling spine
Of a seashell?
The sea waves become
Sound waves,
Splashes spin through
The cool, creamy crevices
Of this little shell.
It tells the story
Of whence it came
And carries its whole world inside it.

Fall leaves burn brightly –
Radiant pastels
Scattered gently underfoot.
Scarlet colored wind
And whispers of breezes bite
Through burnt autumn breaths.
Fragrance of cool smoke –
Fresh air infiltrates.
Crystal droplets staining skin.
The city in a blanket.
Pine, with a shine of light.
Oh, what joy this brings.


As I walk down the street I consider my privilege.
Cloaked in my hoodie, my head and face shaded,
I have no cause to fear the police.
I am not stopped and frisked for no reason,
Or questioned for being out late at night.
My white skin is a shield – a protector against prejudice.
When cops see me, they nod or smile.
I do not receive suspicious glances when I run to catch a bus.
I don’t have to worry about getting shot when I don’t even have a weapon.
I am not stalked or followed by police cars
Just for carrying a backpack.
When I drive a car I don’t think about hiding.
I often consider the police to be the people
Who will protect and defend me against the evils of the world.
I am not thought of as that evil.
My white skin has historically made me “good,”
And yet the people of my color were the ones who held the whips,
The ones who beat black boys senseless
Just for trying to acquire the human right to freedom.
How can white be superior when we have committed such horrendous crimes?
How is it that black boys are being raised to fear the people
Who are supposed to be protecting and defending them?
How is it that this discrimination continues,
And yet people are still willing to turn a blind eye?
It is there.  It exists.  It is a problem.
I walk down the street and consider my privilege.
My privilege of not living in fear.