September 11, 2001
Even the Long Island Expressway
this far east, feels lulled and rapt:
a home movie, Eisenhower colours.
Asphalt still to come, pine barrens
close, the quiet seep of amber.
Wanting everything back,
back the way it was.
But you feel the quickening
of what’s coming, the westbound torrent
of purpose, eight lanes, tugging
multiplexes, malls alongside.
Unshadowing woods, lush organs,
bloodstreams of taillights,
surging to a splendid heart.
So you thread exit to exit,
leave the Little League parks,
the Kinko’s violet and abandoned
from West Babylon to Jericho,
and slip into a spreading evening
of setting tables and wondering
who could be calling now.
Queens gathering around you,
gantries, weathered stacks, grimed
brick massing softly, sparing
offcuts of petal tender sky, then
495 ribboning suddenly aloft
your heart with it, because,
because—the chorus of crystal
the forest of crowns, the host,
the nest of light, the dreamed world.
I came with the many, crossing
as soon as I could, easy-limbed
then, unencumbered, striding
avidly from East Fifty-First to
where you reared, blank above all,
unsurpassable geometries displacing
all the fathoms of heaven.
Later, huddled with another,
sheltering beneath your feet,
leaving with keepsakes, a pair of
trinkets, all we could afford
but imperishable, for all that,
and from a perished place now,
guarded still, like love itself.
We took the elevator, ushered
a liveried girl, her plump name gone
to the utmost gallery, joining
zombies of slow awe, slouching from
the brazen exaltation of midtown
to a seaplane crumpling minutely
all that glimmering Hudson skin.
How did we come to stand there,
any of us, how was magic sustained?
Steel is simple, making bold claims
upon bedrock, and calculus weaves
gowns for dancing with wind.
But we bred the incalculable too.
Perhaps the towering things were these:
cumuli of rampant dreams, elaborations,
thunderheads of avarice, of magnificence.
Even if I had the psalms to summon,
it would not be my place, not this place.
I have no In Memoriam, no team colours,
no wristbands, no Santa Muerte
to set out carefully in the opal air,
changing at Penn Station, keeping
your eyes down, and saying nothing.
We have so filled the void, furnished
the very air with such intricacy
of signals, of traction, hidden workings
that the spheres are carved, latticed.
Those who want to will find a way
will clamber quietly among the seraphs,
to wound at ease the trusting sky.
Trudge quietly, now above ground
and take your place at the chainlink.
Disdain the hawkers, wordlessly
make your way and remember—
deep calls to deep, in the roar
of your waterfalls—your place.
Be still now. Remember your place.
Nothing is so complete, and
occupies such space, you could
scoop it in profane handfuls, drink it.
I waited too long to come, forgive me.
I have been so long coming—
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me.
So long, bringing nothing, wanting—
wanting more than anything—to begin again.