Friday, July 22, 2011

Poetry Friday: 227 Waverly Place

[The hospital Merwin refers to is the now-closed St. Vincent's. which became famous in the 1980s and 1990s for providing pioneering research and treatment and providing compassionate care in the AIDS/HIV epidemic.]


When I have left I imagine they will
repair the window onto the fire escape
that looks north up the avenue clear
to Columbus Circle long I have known
the lights of that valley at every hour
through that unwashed pane and have watched with no
conclusion its river flowing toward me
straight from the featureless distance coming
closer darkening swelling growing distinct
speeding up as it passed below me toward
the tunnel all that time through all that time
taking itself through its sound which became
part of my own before long the unrolling
rumble the iron solos and the sirens
all subsiding in the small hours to voices
echoing from the sidewalks a rustling
in the rushes along banks and the loose
glass vibrated like a remembering bee
as the north wind slipped under the winter sill
at the small table by the window until
my right arm ached and stiffened and I pushed
the chair back against the bed and got up
and went out into the other room that was
filled with the east sky and the day replayed
from the windows and roofs of the Village
the room where friends came and we sat talking
and where we ate and lived together while
the blue paint flurried down from the ceiling
and we listened late with lights out to music
hearing the intercom from the hospital
across the avenue through the Mozart
Dr. Kaplan wanted on the tenth floor
while reflected lights flowed backward on the walls.

-- W.S. Merwin, from Migration: New and Selected Poems. © Copper Canyon Press, 2005.

Above:  Greenwich Village, 1950

More Poetry Friday at The Opposite of Indifference.


Mrs C said...

LOVE the photo.

Tara said...

What a beautiful poem...

Rodak said...

Just found this. Outstanding.