Malled to Death
Nita Van Cleave
ctober 21, 1977 Pristine land. Pond. Fourteen species of tree. One
hundred and eight species of birds, and their heavenly, blended chorus.
October 22, 1977 Chain saw's shrill grind. Backhoe rips and tears. Pond
drained. Turtles attempt escape, and are crushed or buried. Infants of
all kinds die, as parents are forced to flee in horror. Land is
October 22, 1978 "Welcome to Woodlands Shopping Center." "Grand
Opening." "Sale!" "Plenty of Parking." Lincolns and BMWs arrive from
other newly-eradicated paradises; chattering heads bemoan their need for
trinkets and gadgets. Boutiques thrive. Business exceeds plan. Economy
October 22, 1989 "Have you heard? There's a new center out on
Westchester Road. Let's go there instead!" Shops close. New ones move
in: 98 Cent Store, Busby's Liquors, Drugs 4 Cheap. Wrong element
discovers 'Woodlands', and crime is on the rise.
October 22, 1995 All stores have moved on, or gone under, except liquor
store. Broken glass, fires. Urine pooled under mailboxes; safe place for
crack addicts to hide and relieve themselves. Bad area of town.
October 22, 1997 Area deserted, buildings torn down. Optimistic blades
forge through aging asphalt, and outposts of green appear.
It's only grass, but it clings fast to a little hope.
First published: October 1997