the rivers of it, abridged

New York City skyline at night




Patricia Brody

Pedaling the Purgatory Road

Rose would be the goddess of late summer.
          Rhodeon,           Aphrodite's red dear.
          Wouldn't she       —     not Athena,  not Ceres  — .
          Before the harvest
          sap & juice & beating    heart     sustained by heat
                                & garden sweat,

          not one root knowing yet.
                      Nub of bud blown / o-o-ohpen like… hot pepper.
          —        Blossom giving way to fruit  —
                              raw, ruddy hip of rose.

          Or Rose of Sharon,  up the road,  only the center rouged
                                                               by her last, sated suitor.
          Tense, tired,  tawdry rose/  Tissue-white/  her petals at      full-mast
          the blowsy skirt of Sappho's mother's mothers.

          At her hip,   companions sway.      Cattails nod.
          Queen Anne's lace      golden rod
                    or some sleepy guard
          perking to a breeze if there is
                                   a breeze—

                                                      A gull  swoops over
          & salty, silver dune grass
          arcs              cools          sighs
          towards a rosebud wish for the sea  —

Wouldn't she?          As  dark   approaches.


August Bloody Uphill Bike

As I crane my ruined, sweaty knees
Panting up Purgatory to the sea
Uphill to the crest,  where, climbing the fence,
"My"  tennis courtly roses   bleed
                    in the morning breeze.

Still tended,  but past tender.         Impossibly red.
                                             Impossibly heart's blood — blood-blood red,
Oblivious    to ecstasy's end.

Wincing, the thought of taking them in,    these
Thrombotic blooms
                                                 Without you/ With you —

Impaled on their bloody,  heartless red
Their gushing fonts of not –yet –dead
            Tear-shot    wounded     road-spill    red  —

And I let out this bloody heartsick moan,
Heart-sore,   hip-sore,  rose-less groan

When a guy   un heard  on his wheels    behind me
                                                                                     swoops by
And calls consolingly,       in my rose-dusty ear,
It's all downhill from here!



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