jdg at a Detroit public school:
The bathrooms still have their marble stalls. The copper has been ripped from the walls behind each fixture, sledgehammered fissures in the brickwork. The scrappers have left notes to each other on the walls, gloating over what's already been taken. "$5,000 strong copper bitch." Just a few weeks before this trespass, a principal at an operating school in this same district sent home a letter with her students pleading for their parents to send toilet paper and light bulbs to school with their children. The school I'm in was closed so recently that only now are the smoke detectors running low on batteries. The devices are chirping birds in the hallways and classrooms, with songs like cooling embers.
I have read a stolen book to my daughter every night for the past few weeks. Last night, I pulled out the charging card from the first page of a book called The Boy and the Forest, and scanned through the names of the children who'd checked it out all the way back to 1964. Steven. Suzy. Kelvin. Natinia. Here was the history of a school, of a neighborhood, of a city.