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Ukiah Skate Park

UKiah Skate Park
Construction Detail, Ukiah Skate Park



for Justin Capri, Benj Thomas
and the many who believe,
with thanks to George Zadrozny
and his construction crew
If you look up at the sky
on the edge of the park
the act of raising your eyes
increases the rate and frequency
of alpha waves in the brain.
These waves are the source
of sensations we call
pleasure and clarity,
similar to the effects of serotonin,
falling in love, the eating of chocolate,
and now, at last in Ukiah,

Not that skateboarding
is anything new in this town.
A casual search of quarries
along the Willits grade
reveal glyphs etched
on the face of the rocks
depicting two-legged creatures
mounting leaves of wood
to ride the wind,
evidence that skateboarding
was practiced locally
as far back as the early Paleolithic.

Shortly after that era, in 1987,
or maybe ’88, a half-pipe appeared
in the backyard of a home on Oak Street.
It was this construction of wooden ramps,
or rather, its destruction by an invasion
of officious chainsaws, that sparked a rebellion
of skaters, their parents, and friends
and is the origin of this half-acre
of sculpted concrete.

How would they have known at that time
that their children would have children
they hoped could skate?
You never know what you could lose
until you have lost it.
Even if this seems to be more about gaining something
an achievement, a restoration…
There it is.

You must have the confidence of the ravens,
go at it with a mind already free, your only concern
to measure yourself against the sky.
When you’re on that edge
and have that moment
hanging in your skin
you can see far into the future;
you can see inside the atom,
into the chambers of city hall.
For that one heartbeat
you’ve got it all covered.

You merge with the uplifted moon,
study a scattering of aluminum cans and tennis balls,
a quiet river that enfolds the park
in its generous arm, the heart falling
through its own trigonometry,
a woven earth made up of cobbles,
rebar, coping, and cement.

We can almost hold this electric moment.
It’s a split of a split second, rising,
at the same time turning,
as the body curls and clips,
rails and ramps, all eyes lifted
to the sky there on the southern edge of the park
over the line of oaks and the riverbed
with the star patterns wheeling over.
And let it be said in the records of this city,
that as he foretold, George and his crew
made the concrete itself
stand up and dance.

Poem Copyright © 2010 Theresa Whitehill, All Rights Reserved
Commissioned by the City of Ukiah for the occasion of the opening of the Ukiah Skate Park, Saturday 18 December 2010

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