Manhattan Elegy

9/11 — In memoriam: A new poem

Daniel Johnson

Sunday morning on the Upper West Side: Hudson haze
Shimmers in the distance, blowing balmy breezes
Across the baked brownstone. Short of breath,
Old lags in long shorts lurch along alone. Brunch
Beckons to the couples lingering in their bridal beds,
Blessed by the luxury to lust at leisure. A city under
God, the big apple of His eye. From divinity to earth
Is but the distance from Sinai’s summit, the vision
Vouchsafed to Moses: resplendent, just beyond our ken,
But scarcely more sublime than Manhattan’s Babel of towers.
Here, on this Atlantic rock, the full glory of the Lord
Is visible, His paternal pride in our insatiable ingenuity,
Our fingers stretched heavenwards, reaching out to Him
In gigantic gestures of gratitude for the grace of God.
Later, the benediction of a cool evening descends on the
Grilled souls, well done here on the Upper West Side.
Down by riverside, actors declaim Chekhov from monumental
Platforms, while watching lovers serenade the sinking sun.
The night train noses under the city from the north, as sleep
Descends on saint and sinner, sorrows and ecstasies alike.
Multitudes of Manhattan, may the Almighty have mercy
On you; may His face shine on your magnificence; and
May He give you another miraculous decade of peace.

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