Occupation, Times Square, 2011
Here we are, in the great valley of people
between the signs, and the police, and the fences.
Bring me water: I would like that right now.
And the night on the field with the grass and the eels
and the planes rising above us from JFK a dozen miles east –
no one from that night is here.
It feels like I am the only one seeing what I see
and at night I dream of the apocalypse, I am watching the ocean
from above and the tsunami expands like a jellyfish
so perhaps in the dream it actually was a jellyfish,
blue with white edges of waves. The dream-me
checked her cell phone underwater and rode past trains.
In the great mass of people, and then later, walking
down Broadway with police vans stretched for a quarter mile,
I felt very alone; I felt as though no one was watching;
yet the news ticker lighted up again and again to say where I was;
and it was as though I was walking on the back of a whale,
curved slightly, like a parenthesis, and what I thought was an island indeed was alive.
Do you think the Easter Islanders thought there was something else out there?
When the sun sets, early, before Halloween,
we are standing in the park with the river to one side
and the buildings tall beyond the river.
It feels like being within a small circle, sun leaving.
It feels like we are leaving.
When Teddy asks about the Easter Islanders,
I don’t know if she’s saying, look – even those people
weren’t stupid enough to think what we’re thinking, even they
knew of more beyond everything they’d ever seen.
Or if she was saying the opposite:
that we are just like them, on an island,
and we know just as little as they knew. Or if
she was saying something completely different
about environmental destruction and the collapse of a civilization
but right around when I reach that last theory
the sun slips away behind Manhattan
and the Freedom Tower’s lights turn on
and we start talking about Occupy Wall Street,
their colonies like spores, in the Privately Owned Public Spaces
which are also like islands, or volcanoes,
the atria and lobbies of financial buildings
built past regulation, past building code.
And then once we start talking about that
I think about what it means to put out a fire
and what it means for a building to burn with men in it
and the sun setting over the river looks like that fire.