February 13, 2020

Poems of the Southwest Corridor Path

As you walk from the Back Bay Station to the Copley Mall, you may notice some stone markers with words on them. No this isn't a graveyard, and these aren't a monument to soldiers. These are the poems and stories of Southwest Corridor Path.

Southwest Corridor Poems

Five Things

  • There are 18 poems and stories along with the 4.1 mile-long parks Southwest Corridor Path. The trail begins at the south entrance of the Back Bay station and ends at the Forest Hills T-station.
  • The poems and stores were selected by community groups that selected the best ones for that area. Winners not only got their work engraved in stone but they also were given $1,000.
  • The stones were put up in the early days of October in 1987, (There doesn't appear to be an official ceremony.)
  • Orginally Funded by the Department of Transportation's Urban Mass Transportation Administration ( now called the Federal Transit Administration) as part of the Arts in Transit - The Southwest Corridor. (Comrehensive pubic art program manages by UrbanArts, Inc. for the MBTA.)
  • The poem "If My Boundary Stops Here" was written by Ruth Whitman. She wrote this poem as she imagined the journey of Tamsen Donner (Donner Party) to California in 1846. The Donner party attempted to travel to California but ended up snowed in the for six months in the Sierra Nevada.

If My Boundary Stops Here

Poem By Ruth Whitman

If my boundary stops here
I have daughters to draw new maps on the world.
They will draw the lines of my face.
They will draw with my gestures my voice.
They will speak my words thinking they have invented them.

They will invent them.
They will invent me.
I will be planted again and again.
I will wake in the eyes of their children’s children.
They will speak my words.

Counterpoint by Jane Barnes

This is part of the "Counterpoint" story on several of the stones:

Tom and Kate were walking home and Kate, the more responsible one, was scowling Tom for not having paid their rent on time. They argued walking down First Street going up the stairs to their apartment building and inside while they took off their coats.

"But Karie," he said, "I wanted to make sure it had cleared first."

"But you had four clear business days, Tom count them!"

Kate flung her coat on a hook in the vestibule and went to the piano. She opened the music to Bach's First Interception which she was working on. She began to plan the opening as she said, "And anyway, that'll be the second time we been a few days late. It's embarrassing."

Tom was walking around the living room turning on the lights while she played. "To who?" he said. "The super? The accounts are done by some old guy in a skyscraper. It's not like we rent from a real person."

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