Pleased to be Published in The Ravens Perch
Photo by Sona Schmidt-Harris
To New York City during her profound health crisis
On the Morning After the Prayer
The sounds of pigeons, horns and speaking
Rose from the dark—
A soft cacophony and comfort to anguish.
The drunken lay sleeping
Who hours before, expelled the excesses
Of their celebrations or despair,
And nature, merciful nature
Leads them all quietly to the sobriety of morning.
The body rises, or wishes to rise
And I stir and open my eyes
To see light leaking through the blinds
Spilling slanted patterns on the floor
Bending and changing nearly imperceptibly
And on the morning after the prayer,
I awaken full-limbed and whole
As the day of my birth
When my mother, weary from labor,
Unfurled my tightly clenched fists
To reveal ten fingers
And then lifted each tiny foot
Showing five plump, wriggling toes
Declaring themselves in each palm.
“In the beginning, was the Word
And the Word was with God
And the Word was God.”
My grandmother’s bible
Lies seductively open on the desk
I remember my silent companions of the night
Lying immobile on my shelves--conduits of the Word
Who speak only when considered.
I dress and go outside
And Walt Whitman rising from the cracks in the sidewalk
Seems to say,
“You shall live another day. You will love this city
And walk her trafficked ways."
"You will beat your path and make your way
And add your metered step to a city of millions
Whose collective step provides the rhythm
For whosever’s step is measured and far away.”
“You will earn and ask for your daily bread
And share in the public domain
To rise again corpulent and joyous
As the voice of Barry White
On a Harlem street.”
The great bridge spanning the East River
Looms largely in the sky.
And as a child who held her pen too tightly
Anxious in correct formation, I have torn the page.
And deeds of love and focused attention
Lie apparently unmade.
But I have thought of this bridge
As something of art and death
Forgetting its utility—
Forgetting those who traversed it on foot daily
To earn their wage.
And as others, I have viewed it as a grand exit—
A leap from a cabled cathedral
To where earthly volition fades away—
Where limbs are given motion only
By a river giving itself slowly to the sea.
But the dead of these waters shall rise up—
The women ascending as Aphrodites
Ripe with the knowledge of good and evil—
The men as Poseidons with tridents in their hands,
Which once used to stir the great waters
And shake the world
Shall be turned to plough the earth
Which her reapers have forsaken
Photo by Sona Schmidt-Harris
Rain falls downward seeking the sea
Or any small fissure in the ground.
Bodies, earth-drawn, seek the dust
From whence they come.
All That Fall
To stumble, descend and self-destruct
On a course subterranean and drawn.
And then, the fiery womb
Where all are consumed
The blood of the oak
With the blood of the lamb
Fluid and spewed.
I will not cross today, but will return in winter
To walk eastward and declare with a loud voice
The hope that is Brooklyn.