On the other side of the window / a warbler—the only songbird left in New York’s winter / —ascends on silent wings
Three by Ezekiel Zutshi
SEA CLIFF, NY
I have never done this
I have never called a place home.
I’m sorry, it’s all so new to me.
Tell me, have you ever seen the ocean drown the sand?
The crescent moon dissolved into the ink of night
to reveal the stars?
I’m sorry. That is all that I can show you:
a new moon
silver sliding into shadow.
Tonight, you and I are barefoot on that beach,
with sand between our toes; waves lick
the cuffs of your pants
—alright, I will try to tell you more:
There was a local boy who overdosed right there.
There was a raccoon who lived in that pipe.
At night I used to see old men casting lines over there
On the rocks, in the moonlight, in the waves.
I’m sorry. Forgive me. That’s all I can remember
of this place.
I have no more stake in it than you do.
Can I ask you something?
Will you show me something here?
On the rocks
in the moonlight
in the waves
THE STAIRS OF UNION SEMINARY
I have found a place of learning, where
even the cold white staircase
stretches up towards heaven
The sound of thunder does not shake
me from my perch beside an old, drafty window,
along a spiral
of marble litanies rooted in a dark cellar
where the congregation huddles in prayer
I do not know what heights of learning
are above me
Or who laid the bricks of this place
I have climbed no higher than here,
But I follow the footsteps of the luminaries:
Martin Luther King
Thich Nhat Han
Brother Cornel West
The sages leave a trail
On the other side of the window
a warbler—the only songbird left in New York’s winter
—ascends on silent wings
A New “Ode to Walt Whitman”
To think of you on this street 150 years ago
Carousing through Brooklyn
Which was farmland then, contiguous with our old Long Island
Taking a carriage here
—E 12th street, heading west
To the Hudson river where you will sleep
On the banks
Resting your gray head on a giant oyster
Where is the duende on this street?
Under a mound of pylon strung with stars
—With lightning we have brought the stars to earth
In the shadow of a gray tower?
In the shadow where the lonely sleep together
In the shadow in the pile of blankets
Where is the soul of your land, a land changing, a land changed?
Where do you sleep now?