Early Cartography

Bridge from night into day, bridge across the wide river, faint moon and stars fading out, uncertain ripples of sleep not quite forgotten, though by now animals of the dark have found their hiding places again in the brush and reeds, where they watch, breathing quietly, as if holding on to what you’ve lost of the last dream’s undertaking, flickers of a few blocks’ journey down Polk Street, ambling from your house along hot, smelly asphalt to Route 14 at the railroad tracks beside the co-op elevator whose silver angles rise, concentrating summer’s glare above surrounding silos, blank warehouses of corrugated iron, ramshackle sheds, junk machinery. South of the elevator’s ragweed-lined chain link, its long shadow points past peeling bungalows and trailers set on cinderblocks above the creek your mother used to drive along, to turn at the muddy river’s bank, the small invented beach of coarse sand brought in from someplace else. Moms would spread their blankets, chatting and watching kids’ heads bob amid sandbars the river kept moving through, colder in rushes where its undercurrents changed.

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