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“Return to Northwest Hudson”

"Return to Northwest Hudson"

Hudson Lock’s foundry is deserted. The gate’s
unchained, windows shut or shattered through nets
of chicken wire.  I trace the pavement’s winter veins
down Apsley Street, to the church where I was baptized.
                                     Doors boarded.  Stained glass
parceled to the city.  On the modest hill, strawgrass
hints at a manger’s weight.  A windy creak rises up
the steeple, coughs into the gloaming. 

                        The town is calm
tonight.  
  Grayscale heavens, backlit, pave the sidestreets
to a welcome.  Each snowflake is a chance
                                                                           at recognition:
the ice
            of every salted walk, the veins
                                                   in every hand.  That
lark’s wing tracing contrails to the south. That
quitting moon in the western sky.  That
                                      cooing from the chapel’s gutter. 

                                      It’s not the way the light hits
the empty building, how it slats through elm and oak
unto broken bottles and boards.  Not
how it slips the open tower and tumbles into pieces
on a ragged floor, not a recollection of its song,
riven, mornings splayed through colored glass.  No,
it’s the question of how light grabs the steeple’s ledge
that matters, how it grips and trembles at open heights
in hard Atlantic winds.
                             It’s the question of how far
                                                              we can fall.

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