What a delight to see the careful unveiling of community in this neighborhood where Bhakti and I have lived for over 4 years. The neighborhood is Rainier Beach and we live across the street from a large public housing complex with many East African immigrants. Mapes Creek runs through our neighborhood and under much of it after pouring out of the ground just south of legendary Kubota Garden. Unfortunately the creek is not daylighted as it is in some more affluent neighborhoods in Seattle. There is a Mapes Creek walkway that has an interesting official art installation and a vibrant unofficial one. It is the second that I write about today.
The second is at the end of the walkway and created by a street artist who goes by Ikeo. Here are some photographs of it:
One day I saw Ikeo at work and told him how much I appreciated his work. He is a kind and humble man and concerned about the health and well being of people in this neighborhood. He takes pride in Rainier Beach. I was then inspired to write a postcard poem using an image I took of his art:
After I sent the poem to its proper postcard recipient, I made a copy, folded it and put it in my pocket for the day I ran into Ikeo. He seemed pleased when he learned his work was inspiration for poetry. I told him TUX woo’ kwib is the indigenous name of Mapes Creek and a few months later, he created this:
I was tickled to see his response to my response. How we learn from each other, if we are open to it. How we fit in to our neighborhood if we walk around it and engage people in an open, friendly way. I love it here and love that I inspired work that connects people with the culture that was here before us.
(Registration for the 2022 Poetry Postcard Fest is open now.)