Arts, Community, Park Forest

A Poem For Park Forest by Maureen Raftery

Sunset Over Park Forest, Shawn Needham, Maureen Raftery
Sunset Over Park Forest. (Photo: Shawn Needham)

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- Maureen Raftery grew up in Park Forest, and now resides in the home where she grew up. Her father, Michael Raftery, taught at Rich East High School for years before retiring from SD 227 and moving on to Marian Catholic. Her mother, Ginny Raftery, is a well-known local artist who is partial to acrylics on the big canvas.

She shared the following poem last week on Facebook, and was nice enough to let us share it as well.

Park Forest

By Maureen Raftery

Grew up here when
Mom’s whistle was more demanding than
Street lights popping at 9pm
Bikes skidding to a hault
Kids fleeing small put fires and ventures to fictional cities in the deep forest trees
Running, biking, skate-boarding back
Because we all pushed it a little too far

this one night when
The pool closed a little later
The parents talked a little longer
And we thought we could outrun the chores
We ran.
We biked.
We swam.
We traveled through the summer sun and the days of rain
This was our world. This was our neighborhood. This was our terrain.

Sprinklers lasted for hours, the ice cream man came Day after day, and we waited weeks for the fireworks in Central Park, and months for the carnival to stay.
And we were Park Forest.
We are still.
All of our thoughts and memories reside in the building of this little city
The growth of ourselves
Our parents being progressive
Us just riding bikes.
And we remember
Because we thrived.
We built treehouses. Real ones.
We swung from the ropes vines.
We snuck into sewer tunnels
Despite being resigned.
And we never knew.

We never knew what what was happening
Here in this little town where brown people and white people and black people just lived and rode bikes and waited for the ice cream man…
And all their parents did.

This is my town.
The one I returned to to raise
My babies
Most people left.
They made a big mistake.
All the people left here are still just doing the same.
But they aren’t afraid.

MPR 6/15/18

Do you have a poem, song, photo, or prose piece about Park Forest you would like to share with our readers? Please submit your work for consideration to [email protected].