Phoenix Park in Summer
by Jeannie E. Roberts
—near the confluence of the Eau Claire and Chippewa Rivers
In late December
when snow drifts and icicles freeze
when horizon’s cold haze
sparks a remembrance
each buoyant note
the vocal float
of quartets blending
sowing joy across crowds
as rock ‘n’ roll fills the air
and children dancing—
in the heat
on the labyrinth
as community and current unite.
“Phoenix Park in Summer” appears in Nature of it All (Finishing Line Press, 2013) and was first published in the Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar, 2012.
PHOTO: Phoenix Park, Eau Claire, Wisconsin, at the confluence of the Eau Claire and Chippewa Rivers. Photo © Jeannie E. Roberts, used by permission.
NOTE: Phoenix Park is a public space in downtown Eau Claire, Wisconsin, located on a former brownfield site at the confluence of the Chippewa River and the Eau Claire River. In 1994, the city of Eau Claire and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources worked jointly to remediate the soil contamination from almost a century of industrial operations on the site. The remainder of the brownfield on the Eau Claire River frontage, owned by Northern States Power (later Xcel Energy), was remediated in 2002. Covering approximately nine acres, the park offers a walking labyrinth, a natural amphitheater, and a farmer’s market. These amenities make Phoenix Park a major gathering spot, especially during the summer months when the park hosts concerts. The park is owned and operated by the City of Eau Claire.
PHOTO: Children playing in Phoenix Park, Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Photo © Jeannie E. Roberts, used by permission.
NOTE: Eau Claire, a city in west-central Wisconsin, has a population of about 65,000. It is home to the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. The terrain is characterized by the river valleys, with steep slopes leading from the center to the eastern and southern sections of the city. In 2007, America’s Promise named the city as one of the 100 Best Communities for Young People. Eau Claire was among the first Tree Cities in Wisconsin, first cited in 1980, and in 2017 was recognized as a national leader in advancing solar energy. For 2014, Eau Claire was selected as one of ten All-America City Award winners.
PHOTO: Drone view of Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Image by thinkeauclaire.com.
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was inspired by Volume One’s Thursday Night Summer Concert Series at Phoenix Park.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jeannie E. Roberts has authored six books, including The Wingspan of Things (Dancing Girl Press, 2017), Romp and Ceremony (Finishing Line Press, 2017), Beyond Bulrush (Lit Fest Press, 2015), Nature of it All (Finishing Line Press, 2013), and Rhyme the Roost! A Collection of Poems and Paintings for Children (Daffydowndilly Press, an imprint of Kelsay Books, 2019). Her work appears in North American and international online magazines, print journals, and anthologies. She is poetry reader and editor of the online literary magazine Halfway Down the Stairs. When she’s not reading, writing, or editing, you can find her drawing and painting, or outdoors photographing her natural surroundings.