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Gateway to Giants

In this poem, I wanted to reflect on how the actions and choices of those with power and wealth shape the world around us, both physically, in the spaces we inhabit, as well as culturally, shaping the norms of our society. As they exert their wealth and influence, these “industry giants” create literal giants in the form of towers, skyscrapers and other edifices (literal monuments to their success that loom over the people living amongst them). Even on Brown’s campus, the buildings are named after the wealthy benefactors that donated to the university, leaving a physical mark on the spaces we inhabit. For me, being in spaces which are attributed to an individual or family makes me consider what physical marks I will leave behind in the world during my lifetime, as well as the privilege it takes to have the agency to name or shape the spaces people inhabit. 

Gateway to Giants

In the early hours of the morning
When the first few rays
Of the new sun
Cut through the streets
And the buildings are more
silhouette than edifice

The city rises upward
Like the appendages of giants
Waking from their sleep

Some, low to the ground,
Form their fingers
Others, tall in the sky,
Reach out like whole arms
There are ones that are ugly and misshapen
Grasping like greedy hands
Or writhing tongues
More are perfect in their stoicism
Standing watch with a single sword
And unblinking eyes

I walk in the world of giants
My small being reflected
In their massive glass figures
Or completely obscured
In the deep shadow of concrete
As I move between blocks

Each speaks of a story
Older than mine
Their wear and dents
Etch in the history of all they have witnessed
The struggles of countless men
They have outlived
Ending in glorious triumph
Or crushing failure
And one day long after I’m gone
They too will crumble and fall
And a new giant will rise from the earth
To take their place
Yet for now
They tower overhead
Unwavering

Soon I have reached the river
And the sun now hangs in the sky above
I turn my back to the ceaseless water
And look towards the city
Once again brick and metal and concrete and glass
And know the gateway to giants
Has vanished with the shadows

In its place, people teem in the streets
Eager to get on with their lives
But behind it all, giants still remain
To carry on the legacies
Of a thousand more

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