the rivers of it, abridged

New York City skyline at night




Michael T. Young

Chain Links

Immensities open between the summer maple
and fence.I could live ten thousand lives
and not enter them all. So I give everything
to take notice, abandon every plan that doesn't chase
the retreating realities down into their stones,
retrieve some nugget from their random shallows,
from afternoon light that dresses them in a rich promise
of storm clouds and convulsive rain.
Gray pulses crackle like a burning in the collage
that is Jersey City: dogwoods and parking lots,
mulberries and factory pipes threaded like circuitry,
high platforms where the downpour's reconnaissance
pulls back, heaves its weathers into the sky,
its lofty history legible now in the muddy gutters
and flooded basements. Although it's only in
the aqueous pearls strung through the fence, massing
in the chain links, where I notice an identity
scattered but equal in every sack
and sufficient to cup the meager light.


How We Learn

Over rivers and lakes, far from our familiar porches,
the weight of the day massed and crept toward us.
It was a part of nature's lesson plan, the measure
of a chemical reaction between time and meaning,
since the beakers all bubbled and something waited
to happen, though no one waited for it to happen,
like bushes in a city park shaking with the first song
of a newborn bird, unwinding only for the slow-moving
and subterranean, submerged in soliloquies of earth tones
and the darkness of the day's last hours, those
that slate windows to the receptive black of chalkboards
absorbing the stenciled homework assignment
into the weather of a student's first nostalgias,
the gray drifts and rain that turn like thick pages in his sleep,
forces that pound into him, all night, a seismic knowledge.



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