Thursday, June 24, 2010


Summer came and we chased it down to the water's edge. There were fences everywhere, though, where we used to walk right into the East River and sit on half-submerged cement slabs with bottles of beer turning warm in our hands. Brown glass, water lapping, sounds of voices behind us, the dirty oyster scent of it. Now I can't find that place. The broken-windowed buildings are gone. There's new glass and condos crowding around the old horizon. They own it now, and we had just missed visiting hours: the park was closed. We could see the sun setting through the chain link fence. So we went to the pier instead and watched it sink over Manhattan until security came. They herded everyone out, beyond another chain link fence someone strung across the middle of the empty road. Who does it belong to? It's never us or anyone we even know. It's always someone else owning everything.

So we kept going. Chasing the water, riding north, till we got to the one no one wants: the dirty Newtown Creek. It was darker now. Tiny sailboats bobbed near the bank on the Queens side of the river. They looked like toys. White sails nearly glowing in the dark, white triangles snapping soft and then stiff in the wind, the sound like a flag slapping against a flag pole. Right at the edge, we could have touched the black water. But we knew better. There's a poison seeping up from beneath, under the mud at the bottom. Someone else did that, too, which is why this one thing can be ours.