West Side Highway (Meditation)
This evening New York looks
how it always looks in photos
except more flawed, like someone picked it up
and didn’t put it back the way they found it.
This far west the buildings could slip
into the Hudson, and who would miss them,
miss me? This far west it’s all construction,
someone’s good idea, each high-rise
becomes another high-rise stacked
against the soon-to-be-black sky.
Twilight’s only bearable in the city,
lights making something different
than daylight, little lies saying,
you’re not really alone.
This is the life we asked for,
and it’s everything we expected.
There’s nowhere else so light
and dark at the same time.
Because there’s nowhere to go
when we die, our lives really can
be summed up by so many buildings
between two rivers, and because
they’re unfinished, the sky behind
glows pink and gray inside them.
Aaron Smith is the author of Appetite and Blue on Blue Ground, winner of the Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize, both published by the University of Pittsburgh Press. A recent fellow in poetry from the New York Foundation fo r the Arts, he is Assistant Professor of English at West Virginia Wesleyan.