I was by myself on the promenade,
facing the massive city. Pleasure craft
cut white trails in the water.
The lady with the lamp dim green
in the dim green afternoon.
A Circle Line boat, looking sprightly,
hurrying up river toward the Bridge,
and the old paddle steamer from
the South Street Seaport meandering
past Battery. The kind of day you
needn’t take responsibility for, sitting
in the shade, like an elderly citizen,
wondering where it all went—the wife
and kids, the years of work. Covered over
by the waters of the East River. Not a river,
a tidal basin, and the tide coming in now,
full force, dangerous, looking for me.

Harvey Shapiro

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 10 Number 8, on page 43
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