So Be It

If she drops dead
running along a trail
on a cool fall morning.

If she forgets why
he wandered into that dorm room
just to bite her on the neck.

(Who does that?)

If she reads old journals
from her college days
and decides to name the whole series:

“Diary of an Alcoholic as a Young Woman”

If she corrects her
19-year-old self’s spelling
of sea limpet in different colored ink.

If people still wrote letters.

If the deer crossed the parkway
30 seconds later.

If she would just finish reading
the novel instead of fretting
over the torn and crumbling cover.

If anyone still drinks gimlets.

If the indecipherable handwriting
with words scrawled on top
of other freshly spilled ones

was anything
besides evidence
of alcoholic palimpsest.

If her face is red
because he calls her name.
If he appears looking disheveled and sexy,

and it’s dark, and all eyes
are on her, and he walks
down the hall,

and her face is red, and
she doesn’t know what to do
with her face.

If he calls her attire cosmopolitan,
and it’s years before
she lives up to her clothes

(never really does).

If she never orders a cosmopolitan
before getting sober.

If she would stop worrying
about the solo blue morph snow goose
in the city park.

On the last day of astronomical summer,
the bird man says it can fly well enough
when a hawk is near.

If she left more pages
blank,
so she (and everyone else) could breathe.

If she did burn
each and every volume
in an elaborate ritual

involving a bonfire behind
the Take No Heroes Hotel
on a bluff overlooking the sound.

If she had climbed the chain link fence,
the bird would have still died.

He would have still died.

If a floating dock
on the south side of an urban lake
is lonely at night.

If she had done a better job
keeping in touch.

I Heard a Bird Die

as I ran along the trail north
of Cedar Lake this morning.
First, a deep thump
followed by high pitched cries

as a flash of black tumbled into a bush
beneath a wide window on the backside
of the blandest of the blandest buildings,
a copse of trees on my other side

perfectly reflected in the glass.
The cries continued for another moment.
I didn’t stop. I should have stopped.
Then they stopped. A silence loud

as the one I chase to quiet my head
if I run long enough. No full stop.

Bridge

For MJN crossing beneath,
for NYC connecting across,
for the Brooklyn Bridge rescue working destiny

Advance your vantage
point, collapse
your facade of steel,
your gutted concrete floor.

Collide your bridge maker
with mine, collage your hand over mouth
with my eyes shut,
vocal chords in strangulation—

a scream
a void

to coalesce to convalesce
on one promenade
of material unidentifiable yet.
Coordinate the crossing—

bare feet
dust
ash caked faces

no veil could protect,
suits meaningless, ties undone
till they become arms swaying.
A human chain

of events. A human
behavior changing—
never
no way
when
now.

They designed bridges
to be passageways.
Make them good
to get no further

than this. It is still where it has been,
the destination stands
between these pedestrian elevating towers
still here.

Islands + Remnants

I. The City

I worry I won’t remember
how to walk the City sidewalks.
Turns out it is like riding a bicycle
in high gear.

I’m in it again.
The rush + flow
navigate my steps.
30,000 on average per day.

I can’t stop.
It goes by too fast.

The Central Park reservoir
with its remarkable views
of residential skyscrapers
sprouting like weeds.

The SeaGlass carousel in the Battery.
How did I not know about it before?
30 internally illuminated, shimmering
fiberglass fish rotate on turntables

inside a chambered nautilus
shaped pavilion. I can’t resist.

A little island park has arisen
from the remains of Pier 54
on the Hudson River
atop concrete tulips.

I will not take any photos
of the reflecting pools—
footprints of unspeakable loss
20 years cannot heal.

Face-to-face, in-the-flesh
conversations with dear friends
remind me
I’m not always so alone.

II. Nomans Land

As the plane begins to descend
through a thick wall of clouds, I see
the ocean, then
Nomans Land.

Turns out the origin
of the uninhabited island’s name
is possibly a nod to Tequenoman,
a Wampanoag sachem.

The tranquil greenery
belies hidden
unexploded ordnance
riddled across the island.

III. The Vineyard

Then Aquinnah comes into view,
+ I know this is

the island
imprinted on my heart.
My one + only tattoo—
invisible as those UXO.

I never took the Middle Road.
I am a weathered cedar
shake in silent conversation
with the stone walls

I didn’t see. This time
it really is a skunk I smell.

The Flying Horses—
the second carousel I ride in a week.
No brass ring. I’m out of practice,
catching only two at a time.

I would never pull
on the antique horse’s mane.

There’s the rocky beach
where I learned to swim.
There’s Vanessa, the sea serpent
flashing her head + tail in Farm Pond.

Just after I run over it,
the Lagoon Pond bascule bridge
opens to let a schooner
pass through.

Snails glide across
the bike path along Beach Road.
I wish I could be
so fearless.

Waiting for the bus to Menemsha,
I hear a man say:

“He’s the only guy I know who’s caught two
seagulls, one barehanded + one
with a rope. A lifeguard
with too much time on his hands.”

Waterspouts + multiple tornado warnings
+ a relentless downpour awaken me
the last night on the island.
Ferries being diverted come morning

as white caps + serious wind gusts
prove remnants
of Hurricane Ida
really did travel this far north.

IV. Mainland

When I open my suitcase
back home in the middle,
I can smell the Vineyard
in my clothes.