Academic journal article TriQuarterly

The Grid

Academic journal article TriQuarterly

The Grid

Article excerpt

Faces swell, then flatten into the million-celled grid of windows that keeps replicating day and night until no part of the sky remains unlit.

Words spoken between chasms of the avenues are sucked up into stillness after rain: Is my strength the strength of stones? Is my flesh of brass?

Lying on the sidewalk, tendons bulging in his wrists, he stares straight into the armada of rush-hour shoes, his head lolling backward at a hard right angle to his neck

as the police hoist him by his armpits and sockless ankles. Under the purple blackness of his face a jaundiced pallor shadows the whites, unblinking, of his eyes.

The waters wear the stones. My face is foul with weeping and on my eyelids is the shadow of death. Sunlight steams up from humid pavement,

the subway air shafts warmly breathe, the parapets of the bridge towers gleam through mist swirling off the water's satin-sheen.

Smoking, joking, he used to recline on one elbow in front of the storefronts' steel-grated doors, his boutique laid out on the sidewalk: A child's overalls,

soggy magazines, jewelry nicked and scratched ... Downriver, huddled on thin ledges of granite the fledging sparrows crane toward their mothers' beaks,

the traffic blare funneling up past the office windows to expand and mingle with the brine-tinged air, the tugboats lifting and falling in the swell

that rolls beneath the heaving pier. …

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