North Brother Island
morning to take us across the broad black of river,
boat pushed to water in meekness, slowness, still damp
from its nocturnal outing. past. something before:
everything of rivers is always past.
all. the thin air and thick water vapors which rises
off rivertides early in the morning. I who cannot
sleep, many miles to the south, miss this but it is still
cold here also, and chilly air rises through the old floor,
greets Paul and myself on this October morning before
five as we walk off the old blue carpet to the kitchen that
hangs off the end of my apartment like a shoebox in
the tallgrass of a summer lawn or a showboat on rivers
of our imaginations. here we make tea and discover we’d
forgot laundry in the dryer the night before, now cold,
so many things—your rowboat a good example—are
obsolescent. I think this, and geese flew overhead.
the world changed markedly slightly before it became
our own. our grandparents knew it as a fairer-skinned
bride or the groom with one good horse to his name.
still, there’s something very Kennedy about having a boat
and living on a quiet river in New York State.
the chill here leaves my throat but remains near the skin;
Paul sits back on the bed with his tea and the word ”asuke”
in black Sharpie on his left hand from the night before.
we have as our crown jewel nowadays, just one fine thing—
an enduring basis for the spirit that animates us as people:
those parties we go to, those friends we endure, the plans
to escape for a weekend to Atlanta though we don’t really
like Atlanta anyways.
New York we’d rather visit, you know, we could fly up and
see you at your uncle’s place in Manhattan where you once
left the windows going to the patio open and pigeons flew in.
in the morning from your room you felt the chill of the air and
heard the murmur of confused birds in the parlor and bath.
there are so many places around these waterways a small boat can
slid into, those islands and little coves. those stubborn Dutch
bits left over the many years that don’t fit into a sleepless city.
under the Whitestone, towards North Brother Island you go—
I imagine you draw the oars in close and bring your ship to one,
some place alone in the morning and forever unknown to light skies.