Untitled Document

The Long City
a poem by David Dodman | Spring 2007


I have seen the narrow climes
of the long city
draw at me
from a train,
and scrape away
the wheat fields
of the Meadowlands,
like
snow scattered
to the sides of iron railroad beams
on twilight commutes home
in January.

Did Moses really part the Red Sea?
Or was it just
something I saw on television,
but felt echoed in my chest
when the 5:45
from Trenton
emerged
on the other side of the Hudson,
and briefly pierced
the light of a Wednesday afternoon and,
though I knew the taxis and subways
were still running,
saw only,
through the scratched window,
the frozen towers of the crystal city,
rising to my left
and to my right,
in bricks and silver glass and dirty marble?

Our train was heaving,
pressing,
giving birth to its final stop,
steaming and heavy,
amid a Promised Land
of a Penn Station
with soot on the floor tiles
and discarded, blackened newspapers,
and escalators
that led up into the sky.

They would push us out
onto the raw day
and the city air would fill our lungs,
and the steel angles
of a jumbling, busy midtown
would collide into us
and cut through us deeply.

As the sun disappeared
over Newark
and the fiery orange
it had forged
traced through the rooftop water tanks
and doorways
and window sills
in alleyways
of the forgotten western streets,
we walked southwards
on Sixth Avenue,
passing
the snow-silver stones
of the Flatiron Building,
finding
a brimming Union Square
drawn wide into our eyes,
illuminated still
on a cloudless night.


David Dodman '05