Saturday, July 5, 2014

Morningside Heights, July

Spirits in the Night, II (M.A. Reilly. Morningside Heights, NYC. 2009)

Morningside Heights, July

Haze. Three student violists boarding   
a bus. A clatter of jackhammers.
Granular light. A film of sweat for primer   
and the heat for a coat of paint.
A man and a woman on a bench:   
she tells him he must be psychic,
for how else could he sense, even before she knew,   
that she’d need to call it off? A bicyclist   
fumes by with a coach’s whistle clamped   
hard between his teeth, shrilling like a teakettle   
on the boil. I never meant, she says.   
But I thought, he replies. Two cabs almost   
collide; someone yells fuck in Farsi.   
I’m sorry, she says. The comforts   
of loneliness fall in like a bad platoon.   
The sky blurs—there’s a storm coming   
up or down. A lank cat slinks liquidly   
around a corner. How familiar
it feels to feel strange, hollower
than a bassoon. A rill of chill air
in the leaves. A car alarm. Hail.
William Matthews, “Morningside Heights, July” from After All: Last Poems. Copyright © 1998 by William Matthews. Reprinted with the permission of Houghton Mifflin Company

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