Drive to Ponce de Leon Park

Leah
2 min readJan 4, 2023

The streets bear the names of colonizers

Pretty houses painted pastel pink

Sit atop manicured lawns

The hard-fought neighborhood park proclaims:

First white man killed here

It’s history worth preserving

In a habitat demolished

To build a habitat reserve

Where fish swim slowly in rippling murky water

Didn’t they hear what happened

To the fish from yesterday?

Trump flags fly proudly on large shiny boats

Weeks after his recounted loss

Because white men never lose

They’ll destroy the world before they do

I wrote this poem in late November 2020 traveling to Ponce de Leon Park in Punta Gorda, FL. The park is located in a ritzy neighborhood with two and three story houses, boats in the yards, and Trump flags all over the place.

At the time, I was writing a series of poems about nature — thinking about the themes of destruction, reclamation, and preservation. Here, I was toying with the ideas of destruction and preservation.

Who gets to decide what history, land, and people deserve to be preserved?

I was also thinking about how ironic it was that this community built a habitat preserve without thinking about who they’re preserving the habitat from. They were the ones cutting into this natural habitat to build their waterfront properties.

This poem is mostly about the hypocrisy of whiteness. How many white people will argue that everyone else makes everything about race when they go to great lengths to preserve, revere, and normalize the violence of whiteness — by naming streets after violent colonizers and destroying the land and water to build vacation homes. This is why I ended the poem with a warning. If whiteness continues its war path, it’ll take us all down with it.

Picture via Sandra Friend FloridaHikes.com

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Leah

To read my latest, follow me on Twitter. @leahnwhitcomb