Young writers from Writers in Baltimore Schools visited The Baltimore Sun archive in November 2019 to begin research on what would become archival poems—poems inspired by findings (or, often, lack thereof) in the newspaper archive. Madison Hall, a 12th grader at Bard High School Early College, wrote this after a day in the archive searching for information on squeegee workers…
They are here, but why?
Teenagers with their bottles of window cleaner
I have so many questions leafing
Through old yellowed clips
Standing shoulder to shoulder in
A warm room. It
Feels like history, but the pieces are missing
The questions there and the answers
Mixing with soapy water, tossed out at the end of the day
The news says one thing
Patrols try to deter aggressive panhandling,
After several incidents-
A squeegee crackdown.
But there remains a city divided
Forced to confront Baltimore’s poverty on their way to work
Called low intensity extortion or an entrepreneurial spirit
But they’re still here
and draw a heart on a driver’s windshield.
They exist. They are here,
But where in history?
How can they just appear on the intersections
like cabbage patch children out of intersections
Like roses out of concrete
Is that why they were missing from the pages?
Expectations too high that they could get theirs
Because someone deemed them
Menace to society and unworthy as
They exist in pursuit of spare change
If we could make change to spare.
Why are they missing they’re history?
There’s plenty of fault to go around.
Image from the documentary, “By Any Means Necessary: Stories of Survival.”