Carol Alexander

It’s almost impossible to separate the personal angle from the wider view, the individual experience from the political/cultural moment. That’s certainly true in the poem “Environments,” which emerges from a conversation with my teenaged godson, whose color puts him on the front lines. “No outside for him,” he remarked of a classmate living in Bronx public housing. “His mother won’t let him out.” People of my generation used to play in alleyways, in courtyards, in the relative safety of dead end streets. Now, to grant a child a seemingly innocuous freedom can be fatal. The imagery of the fish tank came to me as I envisioned someone’s children staring out their windows at the longed-for streets. I imagined a mother who has been hooked and survived.