the rivers of it, abridged

New York City skyline at night




Ellen Peckham


From the steel walkway a few stories up,
enclosed by commercial buildings in Manhattan's center,
watering, deadheading and faintly hallucinating
from hours of fasting and contemplation in the studio

I think myself into that steep, cobbled street
fit only for walking through the Albicine en route
to and from our apartment, to and from the city center;
Alhambra (it's traceries), Generalife (its fountains),

the Cathedral (its costumed statues), markets (mushrooms, fruits). Passing under
balconies dripping flowers, saluting women
pottering there, hands full of deadheaded blossoms, watering cans.
Black the predominant color of their clothes.

And now I am one with them, black inky clothes,
watering and deadheading but in a space no-one walks below
offering salutations. It may, however, in imagination
be possible to import duende — plucking, watering,



Old Globe

Brazen wire strips marking the meridians curl away
states and kingdoms gone, borders smudged:
politics and greed should have made this globe just another artifact
irrelevant as anything but history or décor.

Yet in eerie sympathy with its archetype, unsteady on its axis,
peeling paint defines new deserts, shanty cities of a growing poor,
sheds green pigments of felled forests, scratches dammed, distorted rivers.
Fade reflects the dirtied seas,

the lead it's made of bared too keenly marks their rubbished shores.
This obsolescent globe spontaneously etched by Cartographer time
truly represents despoiled Earth
while all the new globes lie.



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