3166 Sixteenth Street

by Cesar Love


written in praise of Adobe Bookshop, a bookstore in San Francisco’s Mission District

One lake, pristine and ageless
Water for elk, for willows, for fish

The Padres arrive. They see the lake. They name it Laguna de los Dolores,
Lake of the Sorrows.
Because legend tells us
There they saw an Indian cry.

The Padres build a mission. The mission thrives. A neighborhood emerges.

The fish sense a holocaust.
The lake is drained. Its creeks turned back.
Water birds return from the South.
They look for their lake but do not find it.
Geese witness a crisscross of real estate
And keep to the air

Sixteenth Street is born.
The street attracts the thirsty, the addicted, the psychotic.
In late night stupors, they receive a vision.
They witness a lake, a lake that would cure their thirst.
But mornings they find themselves on dry sidewalk.
Mornings they curse the mirage.

A bookstore opens.
The street of the thirsty embraces the arrival of books.
New books, used books,
Books of every language.
Where legend tells an Indian cried,
Now springs a store for books.
Books to bring tears,
The salt of catharsis
The fresh water of joy.
A bookstore of friendly couches,
Of art openings, of book readings,
Of wine and cheese, of chips and salsa.

An asteroid hits the planet
The sky darkens
A species is losing oxygen
The bookstore cannot pay its rent.

Book lovers shudder
Will the tribe lose its watering hole?
Horror for the books.
Will their pages soon be rustling
On the windy sidewalks of fall
Beside the Sycamore leaves?
But the soul of the lake has a plan.

One Utopian century forward
The creeks are freed from the pipes.
Lake Dolores returns. The egrets return. Ducks return. Fish are restored.

The fish have dreams
They dream of springs
They dream of books
The fish dream of a bookstore
With couches, a cat, and art openings
The fish dream of Adobe Bookshop
Where books
Used and new
The water for swimming




César Love is a resident of San Francisco’s Mission District and an editor of the Haight Ashbury Literary Journal. His book of poems While Bees Sleep was published by CC. Marimbo Press. He recently taught Creative Story Telling at the University of the Commons.



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