Before Dawn on Bluff Road
The crow's raw hectoring cry
scoops clean an oval divot
of sky, its fading echo
among the oaks and poplars swallowed
first by a jet banking west
then the Erie-Lackawanna
sounding its horn as it comes through the tunnel
through the cliffs to the river
and around the bend of King's Cove Bluff,
full of timber, Ford chassis, rock salt.
You can hear it in the dark
from beyond what was once the amusement park.
And the wind carries along as well,
from down by the river,
when the tide’s just so,
the drainage just so,
the chemical ghost of old factories,
the rotted piers and warehouses:
lye, pigfat, copra from Lever Bros.,
formaldehyde from the coffee plant,
dyes, unimaginable solvents -
a soup of polymers, oxides,
tailings fifty years old
seeping through the mud, the aroma
almost comforting by now, like food,
wafting into my childhood room
with its fevers and dreams.
My old parents asleep,
only a few yards across the hall,
door open - lest I cry?
almost nothing of my life.
‘Before Dawn on Bluff Road’ from Green Sees Things in Waves (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1998) copyright © 1998 by August Kleinzahler, used by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. www.fsgbooks.com <http://www.fsgbooks.com>