The protests are back. I mean it’s sad.
We’d gone 100 days with protests, is that how many The Plain Dealer counted?
And then the smoke from the wildfires came and Portland reluctantly paused.
It smelled and looked like mother nature had tear-gassed everyone.
Speaking of, I was on the way back from soccer practice, listening to OPB.
Turns out George Atiyeh died in the Beachie Creek Fire.
My friend, Ryan, and I had just bathed in those turquoise waters a month ago.
I got some gray, fresh air with my mom a few weeks ago. We went downtown
for a walk. Most of Portland, at least the Eastside is small cafes,
Quaint little neighborhood grocery stores, like the one on 21st,
with the bright orange walls. That one closed a bit ago though.
I already forget its name but I still remember going to get milk
in a quarter gallon glass jar for hot cocoa with Dennis Gurkin.
Those shops won’t survive. Why? Because the selfish people
at Hillside, at Chapman Park, at the Docks, didn’t do their part four months ago.
The protests don’t help either. But that’s different.
Hopefully, people keep their masks on and stay apart, because it’s a worthy cause,
which is ironic, ‘cause Portland lacks melanin. You can usually spot some black people at the
rallies, seeping through the sea of skinny, freckled, ginger, mega-beard rocking, baristas.
And Goodwill-shopping, striped-sock-wearing, tattoo-covered Voodoo Doughnuts workers.
Just like the way the subtle racism of this place seeps through
the walls of the Legacy Emanuel Medical Center.
I bet Mimi remembers when that was a black neighborhood,
when most of the Northeast side was.
Most people are oblivious to the racism in Portland’s past. Now,
it’s a liberal bubble. I remember you telling me about Cleveland,
that you get a bit of both. What’s that like? Maybe that’s better.
It was kind of bittersweet. They announced a Proud Boys rally at Delta Park,
Northeast Portland. Twenty thousand they said. Two hundred came.
That’s lightweight energy. Maybe we’re better than we thought.
Maybe we’ll get through this. Who knows? A friend from a different world,— Mateo.
Mateo Sifuentes is a student, and part of the Catlin Gabel High School class of 2021 in Portland, Oregon. As a Spanish-American, he spends his time playing soccer, and cooking and eating mouthwatering food. His preferred subjects at school and future career path involve biology and medicine. He is an advocate for improving mental health resources in schools in his area. While he tends to spend the most time learning in the STEM fields and new languages, poetry has given him an outlet to reflect upon this phase of his life that is now coming to an end. This poem especially has helped in avoiding becoming desensitized by every news-worthy event of 2020 happening in his surroundings.