O mast-hemmed Manhattan! It is not you
for whom I gird myself to mourn. These tears
embarrass me. Who weeps for cracked bluestone
pavements? For flowering lindens, their havoc
wrought on lung and sinus, for the flower
shops laden with peonies each winter?
Foul Gowanus! Who laments horseshoe crabs,
“Coney Island whitefish” Bondo and slime,
the bad cabbie practice of tossing piss
bottles in gutters, morning glories late
September evenings, such raging beauty?
For your grid, dull hills, Whitman’s promenade
and cock of the walk, your sad Crane, your Moore,
your lost house of Auden, McCullers, backyard
of bitter apples, I mourn. Broad park
of Frisbee, smoke and picnics, your dog pond,
your stay-at-home mothers, their solitaires
and infant slings. Brooklyn, it’s your surfeit
of love and money, your suffering, lack
and hope, which I cannot yet bear to leave.
What I wanted is more time. Some to spare.
Katharine Jager is a poet and a medieval scholar. Recent poems have appeared in the Gettysburg Review, the Bellevue Review, Commonweal, and Friends Journal, as well as the Yale anthology of the devotional lyric, Before the Door of God. She teaches at the University of Houston-Downtown.
“Lament” appears in our Spring 2014 issue.