Why this?

The occasional poem of my own and a generous helping of work by others that I find inspiring. Site is named for a beloved book by one of my favorite writers, Italo Calvino, whose fanciful work lights--and delights--my soul.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

December Morning

How did I come to this late happiness 
as I wake into my remaining days
another morning in my life with Paula
taking me by surprise like the first one
I know it is rash to speak about happiness
with the Fates so near that I can hear them
but this morning even the old regrets 
seem to have lost their rancor
and to harbor shy hopes like the first grass
of spring appearing between paving stones
when I was a small child and I see
that each step has been leading me
to the present morning that I recognize
before daylight and I forget that
I am almost blind and I see the piles
of books I was going to read next
there they wait like statues of sitting dogs
faithful to someone they used to know 
but happiness has a shape made of air
it was never owned by anyone
it comes when it will in its own time

--W. S. Merwin 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Linda Pastan for the win

All poems found here.

NOTES TO MY MOTHER

1.
Your letters to me
are forwarded to my dreams
where you appear in snatches
of the past, wearing
appropriate clothes--
a thirties' shirtwaist or the long
seal coat you wintered in.
And since your gravestone
is shaped like the front
of our old mailbox,
I'll try to leave my messages
of flowers there.

2.
"Feeling fine, having a good time."
I had to stamp those words
on postcards home from camp,
though I was so homesick there
I'd read the nametapes on my socks
and handkerchiefs--scraps of my real self
you had sewn on by hand.
And so I write it now, though
I'm still homesick eight years after
you left me in my life for good:
feeling fine, having a good time.

3.
The roles of wife and mother
matched you with yourself

as perfectly as your shoes matched
your handbags. Therefore, for years

I couldn't understand my own failures
at order and optimism.

4.
How many autumns I've tried to pick my life up
like a dropped stitch and just get on with it,
tried to pretend the falling temperatures,
the emptying trees were not a synopsis:
so many losses behind me, so many
still ahead. The world is diminished leaf
by single leaf, person by person
and with excruciating slowness.
Sometimes I wish some wandering
comet would hit, as the newspaper
this morning warns or promises--some stray
pinball ricocheting through space.
Then we'd go up together in a lovely blast
of fireworks like the kind I watched
from our July 4th window light up
the sky with percussive neon ribbons.
And the dog, in his last month, hid
under the couch; and your great-grandchildren
couldn't decide whether to be frightened
or ecstatic, their laughter had that edge
of shrillness to it. They don't know
that danger is the shadow thrown
by every bright object; that even family love
can show this dull metallic underside,
as the leaves do which move in sudden gusts
of September wind all in the same direction,
like a school of panicked minnows
sensing a predator ahead.

5.
Though I learned to love
the woman you became
after the stroke,

I never quite forgave her
for hiding my real mother--you,
somewhere

in the drifted snows beyond
that unscalable
widow's peak.

6.
Everywhere
the stream
of life goes on,
and I try to
go with it,
non-swimmer,
paddler in a leaky
canoe.

7.
You taught me always
to write thank you notes, though
I never thanked you properly,
not even when you were dying. But
I thought our inarticulateness
in the face of love was as elemental
as the silence of stones
in the same streambed. I thought
you wanted it that way.

8.
As I grow older, I try
to draw the world in close
as if it were a shawl you had crocheted for me
from small indulgences--morning coffee
from the same cracked cup,
a stroll downhill past empty mailboxes
where only weather may be different
or the seasonal colors of the birds.
And I try to think of loss as a salt sea
I'll learn to swim in later;
getting closer to you
with every overarm stroke.

9.
Things I refuse to think about
also come back in dreams:
the way my fingers have started
to fail, as yours did, knuckle
by swollen knuckle. Last night
I dreamed of handcuffs,
amputation.
Or how even repented sins
are ours for good: they drift
down the exotic rivers
of medicinal sleep
mewling like kittens.

So in the last moments of wakefulness
I re-create that lost world
whose textures are like braille
beneath my fingertips: the enamel
of the forties' stove where you taught me
to cook; the floral wallpaper you chose
whose roses had no thorns;
the strictness of starch against skin.
And here sleep comes
with all its complicated gifts
and treacheries to gather me
in its arms.

--

BETWEEN GENERATIONS

I left my father in a wicker basket
on other people's doorsteps.
Now I wait to be adopted by children,
wait in a house far between generations
with night rising faster
than the moon.

I dream of Regan laughing on her father's lap
behind the castle.
I laughed once in my father's face,
and he laughed, and the two laughters
locked like bumpers 
that still rust away between us.

My children fill the house with departures.
Zippers close, trunks close, wire hangers jump
on the empty pole--ghosts without their sheets.
And I ask what strict gravity 
pushes love down the steep incline 
from father to child, always down?

--

JOURNEY'S END

How hard we try to reach death safely, 
luggage intact, each child accounted for, 
the wounds of passage quickly bandaged up. 
We treat the years like stops along the way 
of a long flight from the catastrophe 
we move to, thinking: home free all at last. 
Wave, wave your hanky towards journey's end; 
avert your eyes from windows grimed with twilight 
where landscapes rush by, terrible and lovely.

--

NIGHT SOUNDS

When the clock
like a moon shows
the dark side of its face
we reach
across cold expanses
of pillow
for speech.
In that silence
a fox barks
from the next field,
or a train drags its long syllable
over a hill,
or the baby
washed up again from sleep
sends its vowels
calling
for their lost
consonants.

--

OLD WOMAN

In the evening
my griefs come to me
one by one.
They tell me what I had hoped to forget.
They perch on my shoulders
like mourning doves.
They are the color
of light fading.

In the day
they come back
wearing disguises.
I rock and rock
in the warm amnesia of sun.
When my griefs sing to me 
from the bright throats of thrushes
I sing back.

--

TO A DAUGHTER LEAVING HOME

When I taught you
at eight to ride
a bicycle, loping along
beside you
as you wobbled away
on two round wheels,
my own mouth rounding
in surprise when you pulled
ahead down the curved
path of the park,
I kept waiting
for the thud
of your crash as I
sprinted to catch up,
while you grew
smaller, more breakable
with distance,
pumping, pumping
for your life, screaming
with laughter,
the hair flapping
behind you like a

handkerchief waving
goodbye.

--

AFTER AN ABSENCE

After an absence that was no one’s fault
we are shy with each other,
and our words seem younger than we are,
as if we must return to the time we met
and work ourselves back to the present,
the way you never read a story
from the place you stopped
but always start each book all over again.
Perhaps we should have stayed
tied like mountain climbers
by the safe cord of the phone,
its dial our own small prayer wheel,
our voices less ghostly across the miles,
less awkward than they are now.
I had forgotten the grey in your curls,
that splash of winter over your face,
remembering the younger man
you used to be.

And I feel myself turn old and ordinary,
having to think again of food for supper,
the animals to be tended, the whole riptide
of daily life hidden but perilous
pulling both of us under so fast.
I have dreamed of our bed
as if it were a shore where we would be washed up,
not this striped mattress
we must cover with sheets. I had forgotten
all the old business between us,
like mail unanswered so long that silence
becomes eloquent, a message of its own.
I had even forgotten how married love
is a territory more mysterious
the more it is explored, like one of those terrains
you read about, a garden in the desert
where you stoop to drink, never knowing

if your mouth will fill with water or sand.

--

THE WAY THE LEAVES KEEP FALLING

It is November 
and morning--time to get to work. 
I feel the little whip 
of my conscience flick 
as I stand at the window watching 
the great harvest of leaves. 
Across the street my neighbor, 
his leaf blower already roaring, 
tries to make order 
from the chaos of fading color. 
He seems brave and a bit foolish. 
It is almost tidal, the way 
the leaves keep falling 
wave after wave to earth.

In Eden there were 
no seasons, and sometimes 
I think it was the tidiness 
of that garden 
Eve hated, all the wooden tags 
with the new names of plants and trees. 
Still, I am Adam’s child too 
and I like order, though 
the margins of my poems 
are ragged, and I stand here 

all morning watching the leaves.

--

AN OLD SONG

How loyal our childhood demons are,
growing old with us in the same house
like servants who season the meat
with bitterness, like jailers
who rattle the keys
that lock us in or lock us out.

Though we go on with our lives,
though the years pile up
like snow against the door,
still our demons stare at us
from the depths of mirrors
or from the new faces across a table.

And no matter what voice they choose,
what language they speak,
the message is always the same.
They ask “Why can’t you do
anything right?” They say

“We just don’t love you anymore.”

--

HIGH SUMMER

The earth smells of flowers
and corruption--so many
shades of green
that caterpillar and leaf
are indistinguishable,
even as one obliterates
the other.

Aunt Ruth sits
on the back porch, rocking
towards her death.
The smallest cousin swims
into the future. Look
at the water, so beautiful 
in all that it conceals.

--

SOMETIMES

from the periphery
of the family
where I sit watching
my children and 
my children's children
in all their bright
cacophony,

I seem to leave
my body--
plump effigy
of a woman, upright
on a chair--
and as I float
willingly away

toward the chill
silence of my own future,
their voices break
into the syllables
of strangers, to whom
with this real hand
I wave goodbye.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

From Time to Time

It is the moment just before that we
live over and over in its only time
and then recount to those who were not there
the beginning still echoes in laughter
but resounds unrecognized every time
and never comes back to begin again
there are no words for calling after it
and when it went it left no memory
but the sound of the running sheep calling
to the evening from the darkening hill
what they are calling as they run is Wait
what each one of them is calling is Wait

The Other House

I come back again to the old house
that I thought I knew for most of a lifetime
the house I reclaimed from abandon and ruin
and that I called my home at times when I was here
and at times when I was somewhere far from here
this time I have not come to reclaim anything 
but to move nothing and to touch nothing 
as though I were a ghost or here in a dream
and I know it is a dream that has no age
in this dream the same river is still here
the house is the old house and I am here in the morning
in the sunlight and the same bird is singing 

--W. S. Merwin

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Native Memory

River was my first word
after mama.
I grew up with the names of rivers
on my tongue: the Coosa,
the Tallapoosa, the Black Warrior;
the sound of their names
as native to me as my own.

I walked barefoot along the brow of Lookout Mountain
with my father, where the Little River
carves its name through the canyons
of sandstone and shale
above Shinbone Valley;
where the Cherokee
stood on these same stones
and cast their voices into the canyon below.

You are here, a red arrow
on the atlas tells me
at the edge of the bluff
where young fools have carved their initials
into giant oaks
and spray painted their names and dates
on the canyon rocks,
where human history is no more
than a layer of stardust, thin
as the fingernail of god.

What the canyon holds in its hands:
an old language spoken into the pines
and carried downstream
on wind and time, vanishing
like footprints in ash.
The mountain holds their sorrow
in the marrow of its bones.
The body remembers
the scars of massacres,
how the hawk ached to see
family after family
dragged by the roots
from the land of their fathers.

Someone survived to remember
beyond the weight of wagons and their thousands
of feet cutting a deep trail of grief.
Someone survived to tell the story of this
sorrow and where they left their homes
and how the trees wept to see them go
and where they crossed the river
and where they whispered a prayer into their grandmother’s eyes
before she died
and where it was along the road they buried her
and where the oak stood whose roots
grew around her bones
and where it was that the wild persimmons grow
and what it was she last said to her children
and which child was to keep her memory alive
and which child was to keep the language alive
and weave the stories of this journey into song
and when were the seasons of singing
and what were the stories that go with the seasons
that tell how to work and when to pray
that tell when to dance and who made the day.

You are here
where bloodlines and rivers
are woven together.
I followed the river until I forgot my name
and came here to the mouth of the canyon
to swim in the rain and remember
this, the most indigenous joy I know:
to wade into the river naked
among the moss and stones,
to drink water from my hands
and be alive in the river, the river saying,
You are here,
a daughter of stardust and time.

--Ansel Elkins

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Imperatives for Carrying On in the Aftermath

Do not hang your head or clench your fists
when even your friend, after hearing the story,
says: My mother would never put up with that.
Fight the urge to rattle off statistics: that,
more often, a woman who chooses to leave
is then murdered. The hundredth time

your father says, But she hated violence,
why would she marry a guy like that?
don’t waste your breath explaining, again,

how abusers wait, are patient, that they
don’t beat you on the first date, sometimes
not even the first few years of a marriage.

Keep an impassive face whenever you hear
Stand by Your Man, and let go your rage
when you recall those words were advice

given your mother. Try to forget the first
trial, before she was dead, when the charge
was only attempted murder; don’t belabor

the thinking or the sentence that allowed
her ex-husband’s release a year later, or
the juror who said, It’s a domestic issue—

they should work it out themselves. Just
breathe when, after you read your poems
about grief, a woman asks: Do you think

your mother was weak for men? Learn
to ignore subtext. Imagine a thought-
cloud above your head, dark and heavy

with the words you cannot say; let silence
rain down. Remember you were told
by your famous professor, that you should

write about something else, unburden
yourself of the death of your mother and
just pour your heart out in the poems.

Ask yourself what’s in your heart, that
reliquary—blood locket and seed-bed—and
contend with what it means, the folk-saying

you learned from a Korean poet in Seoul:
that one does not bury the mother’s body
in the ground but in the chest, or—like you—

you carry her corpse on your back.


--Natasha Trethewey, 1966

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Whiskey

I imagine our last happy days: a field
brimming with sunset-grass
the colour of whiskey
you and I are sipping.
And the children--whose
names are the tips of our tongues--
twirl about them the melting
ice of imaginations in that hot field
where we are sitting in some shady place
near sunset's charred oesophagus
looking on, sipping our whiskey 
washing ourselves away so shiningly.

--Vladimir Lucien

Chronic

When dinners' wick has gone black
but the sky and river still see the blue 
drop in the other's grey eyes,

the stacked lanterns of windows
light here then again, a festival 
to the most ordinary of days.

These moments I want nothing
but to sit under the sound of the laundry 
beating warm and steady

as the night flows between buildings,
to let myself darken with the night sky
as it fills with these paper domes,

all the light let go
by a million homes alighting for sleep--
to live outside this body.

--Alison Angell 

Sherbet

The problem here is that
This isn’t pretty, the
Sort of thing which

Can be easily dealt with
With words. After
All it’s

A horror story to sit,
A black man with
A white wife in

The middle of a hot
Sunday afternoon at
The Jefferson Hotel in

Richmond, VA, and wait
Like a criminal for service
From a young white waitress

Who has decided that
This looks like something
She doesn’t want

To be a part of. What poetry
Could describe the
Perfect angle of

This woman’s back as
She walks, just so,
Mapping the room off

Like the end of a
Border dispute, which
Metaphor could turn

The room more perfectly
Into a group of
Islands? And when

The manager finally
Arrives, what language
Do I use

To translate the nervous
Eye motions, the yawning
Afternoon silence, the

Prayer beneath
His simple inquiries,
The sherbet which

He then brings to the table personally,
Just to be certain
The doubt

Stays on our side
Of the fence? What do
We call the rich,

Sweet taste of
frozen oranges in
This context? What do

We call a weight that
Doesn’t fingerprint,
Won’t shift

And can’t explode?

--Cornelius Eady

Why Do So Few Blacks Study Creative Writing?

Always the same, sweet hurt,
The understanding that settles in the eyes
Sooner or later, at the end of class,
In the silence cooling in the room.
Sooner or later it comes to this,

You stand face to face with your
Younger face and you have to answer
A student, a young woman this time,

And you’re alone in the classroom
Or in your office, a day or so later,
And she has to know, if all music
Begins equal, why this poem of hers
Needed a passport, a glossary,

A disclaimer. It was if I were…
What? Talking for the first time?
Giving yourself up? Away?
There are worlds, and there are worlds
She reminds you. She needs to know
What’s wrong with me? and you want

To crowbar or spade her hurt
To the air. You want photosynthesis
To break it down to an organic language,
You want to shake I hear you
Into her ear, armor her life

With permission. Really, what
Can I say? That if she chooses
To remain here the term
Neighborhood will always have
A foreign stress, that there
Will always be the moment

The small, hard details
Of your life will be made
To circle their wagons?

--Cornelius Eady

Jazz

Today I’m thinking about this child’s life —
the rags of it, the ragged waves of it, the vaporous
fumes of it, the split tree, stomped out spark,
the one-eyed, peg-legged pirate of it, the over-ripened
kissed to bruises fruit, the exposed
negative, the burned out bulb marquee. And then
I start thinking maybe there’s hope.
Maybe her life could be like jazz
that starts out with a simple melody,
nothing complicated, nothing jittery or twisted,
and then breaks off, kisses it, waves goodbye,
ripens the notes, tears the tune to rags,
strips it, pokes out an eye, burns it,
sends it up in smoky wreaths,
reaches inside and steals the honey,
bees streaming in black ribbons from the hive,
and when it seems as though it’s long gone, ashes and bone,
when it’s strung out, wrung out, blasted
with a wrecking ball, bombed out, concrete dust,
it slides over and spirals up in one high thin note
stretched so far you can’t tell if the ache
is bitter or sweet, it returns
to the melody, rinsed pure and clean of the past,
you almost can’t bear it, the deliverance,
the song come home.

--Ellen Bass

Pleasantville, New Jersey, 1955

I’d never seen a rainbow or picked
a tomato off the vine. Never walked in an orchard
or a forest. The only tree I knew
grew in the square of dirt hacked
out of the asphalt, the mulberry
my father was killing slowly, pounding
copper nails into its trunk.
But one hot summer afternoon
my mother let me drag the cot onto the roof.
Bed sheets drying on the lines,
the cat’s cardboard box of dirt in the corner,
I lay in an expanse of blueness. Sun rippled
over my skin like a breeze over water.
My eyelids closed. I could hear the ripe berries
splatting onto the alley, the footsteps
of customers tracking in the sticky, purple mash.
I heard the winos on the wooden crates,
brown bags rustling at the throats of Thunderbird.
Car engines stuttered, came to life and died
in the A&P parking lot and I smelled grease and coffee
from the diner where Stella, the dyke, washed dishes
with a pack of Camel’s tucked
in the rolled-up sleeve of her t-shirt.
Next door, Helen Schmerling leaned on the glass case
slipping her fist into seamed and seamless stockings,
nails tucked in, to display the shade, while Sol
sucked the marrow from his stubby cigar,
smoke settling into the tweed skirts and mohair sweaters.
And under me something muscular swarmed
in the liquor store, something alive
in the stained wooden counter and the pungent dregs
of beer in the empties, my mother
greeting everyone, her frequent laughter,
the shorn pale necks of the delivery men,
their hairy forearms. The cash register ringing
as my parents pushed their way, crumpled dollar
by dollar, into the middle class.
The sun was delicious, lapping my skin.
I felt that newly arrived in a body.
The city wheeled around me—
the Rialto movie, Allen’s shoe store, Stecher’s Jewelry,
the whole downtown three blocks long.
And I was at the center of our tiny
solar system flung out on the edge
of a minor arm, a spur of one spiraling galaxy,
drenched in the light.

--Ellen Bass

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Disaster Work

Someone is on the plane
that noses 2,000 feet into the air, stops,
then drops. Someone is in
the tornado-flattened Texaco station.
Someone is on the bus the suicidal
or stroke-struck driver launches
through the guardrail and off the mountain.


It isn’t you. You’re watching
a ticker scroll placidly across
the bottom of the screen, thinking
awful, awful, and below those words,
deeper than articulation can go,
hums your golden gratitude
that once again this is a tragedy


you can witness but not touch.
You can continue the work
of chewing your waffle. You can
approach the smoothed edges
of disaster, and you can,
when you light on a rough spot—
the image of the little boy’s


brown shoe in the rubble, the woman
who looks like your mother
howling in a blue hat—pull back.
Some will say this is cowardice,
your unwillingness to hold
these horrors in your hands. But
if you considered, truly, the dead child,


the husband that the woman
who looks like your mother
will never see again; if you considered,
truly, what it means that a plane
could drop without warning
with its full load of daughters
and coaches and magazine-readers,


that the sky might unfold a beast
that will hunt you without reason,
that the white-mustached man
behind the wheel of your bus
is not programmed but is a human
stranger you have chosen to trust
with your absurdly flimsy life—


how in the world could you do
the work of chewing your waffle?
How could you do the impossible work
of putting your child to bed,
saying goodnight, closing the door
on the darkness?


--Catherine Pierce

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Ars Poetica

To have
even a
lotto chance

of getting
somewhere
within yourself

you don’t quite know
but feel

To cling
to the periphery
through the constant

gyroscopic
re-drawing of its
provinces

To make
what Makers make

you must set aside
certainty

Leave it
a lumpy backpack
by the ticket window
at the station

Let the gentleman
in pleated khakis
pressed for time

claim it

The certainty
not the poem.

--Leslie McGrath

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Beige Wall Telephone, 1960s

To you who have never known what it is to be tethered 
    to the family's one phone by a corkscrew cord 
         filthied by idle fingers twisting it as we talked 
and stretched by our efforts to sneak with the handset

away from the dining room where that cheap plastic box 
    clung to the wall, my sister and I desperate 
         to hide behind curtains or in a nearby room 
and mumble dumb endearments to whichever lucky soul

we had a crush on that week: I won't say how wonderful 
    it felt to hear a call's unexpected tremolo 
         and rush to answer that sudden summons, 
lifting the receiver's heavy curve out of its metal hook,

or to dial seven numbers on a whirring analog wheel 
    and hear a distant ringing pulse in the ear, 
         knowing that actual bells trilled as a body 
moved through space to deliver its hopeful Hello?—

no, it was awful, that phone, intended for businesses, 
    brisk standing exchanges of information, 
         not a home where its too-public anchoring 
left adolescent siblings open to each other's mockery

and the cocked ears of nosy parents straining to decode 
    one side of conversations as we curled closer 
         to the wall and whispered words downward 
into the darkness that our huddling made, not pacing

like a barking dog chained to a stake in the backyard 
    but trying our best to vanish, descending 
         slow as a diver sipping words like oxygen 
from a humming line whose other end kept us breathing.

--Michael McPhee

Friday, August 12, 2016

Tree Poem

It wasn’t that he wanted to take his life.
He wanted to take his death
into his own hands. There was
a difference, he knew, though he couldn’t
articulate it. More speculative than suicidal,
more curious than depressed,
more interested than not,
he didn’t want to talk to a therapist.
He wanted to talk to Walt Whitman.
He wanted to talk to his best friend from
kindergarten, who’d moved away
on the cusp of first grade, and he never
saw him again. He wanted to climb a tree
and sit up there all alone in the top branches
watching it absorb the carbon dioxide.
He had a bit of the tree in him himself.
He had similar aspirations
and spent much of his time in the branching
ramifications in his head. But because his children
would never live it down, he climbed
down from the tree in the car in the garage
every time, and walked back into his life with a few
leaves and twigs still sticking to his head.

--Paul Hostovsky

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Cake

Look, you
want it
you devour it
and then, then
good as it was
you realize
it wasn’t
what you
exactly
wanted
what you
wanted
exactly was
wanting

--Noah Eli Gordon

When I Read the Book

When I read the book, the biography famous,
And is this then (said I) what the author calls a man’s life?
And so will some one when I am dead and gone write my life?
(As if any man really knew aught my life,
Why even I myself I often think know little or nothing of my real         
      life, Only a few hints, a few diffused faint clews and indirections
I seek for my own use to trace out here.)

--Walt Whitman

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Bridge Poem



Stone and Steel: Paintings and Writings Celebrating the Bridges of New York City

Yes: I Loved the Great Bridges...

Yes: I loved the great bridges and walked back and forth over them, year after year. But as often happens with repeated experiences, one memory stands out above all others: a twilight hour in early spring—it was March, I think—when, starting from the Brooklyn end, I faced into the west wind sweeping over the rivers from New Jersey. The ragged, slate-blue cumulus clouds that gathered over the horizon left open patches for the light of the waning sun to shine through, and finally, as I reached the middle of the Brooklyn Bridge, the sunlight spread across the sky, forming a halo around the jagged mountain of skyscrapers, with the darkened loft buildings and warehouses huddling below in the foreground. The towers, topped by the golden pinnacles of the new Woolworth Building, still caught the light even as it began to ebb away. Three-quarters of the way across the Bridge I saw the skyscrapers in the deepening darkness become slowly honeycombed with lights until, before I reached the Manhattan end, these buildings piled up in a dazzling mass against the indigo sky.

Here was my city, immense, overpowering, flooded with energy and light; there below lay the river and the harbor, catching the last flakes of gold on their waters, with the black tugs, free from their barges, plodding dockward, the ferryboats lumbering from pier to pier, the tramp steamers slowly crawling toward the sea, the Statue of Liberty erectly standing, little curls of steam coming out of boat whistles or towered chimneys, while the rumbling elevated trains and trolley cars just below me on the Bridge moved in a relentless tide to carry tens of thousands homeward. And there was I, breasting the March wind, drinking in the city and the sky, both vast, yet both contained in me, transmitting through me the great mysterious will that had made them and the promise of the new day that was still to come.

...

I have carried the sense of that occasion, along with two or three other similar moments, equally enveloping and pregnant, through my life: they remain, not as a constant presence, but as a momentary flash reminding me of heights approached and scaled, as a mountain climber might carry with him the memory of some daring ascent, never to be achieved again. Since then I have courted that moment more than once on the Brooklyn Bridge; but the exact conjunction of weather and light and mood and inner readiness has never come back. That experience remains alone: a fleeting glimpse of the utmost possibilities life may hold for man.

--Lewis Mumford