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Phillip Lopate describes the shape of Manhattan Island as‘a luxury liner, permanently docked, going nowhere’. This feeling of being tethered to the land, unable to get to sea, was a feature of New York life for much of the twentieth century. New York was an island without a coast. The West Side piers that once welcomed the Lusitania spent most of the twentieth century crumbling or behind barbed wire, while the East Side’s coves and points were cut off from pedestrians by six lanes of the Robert Moses-designed Franklin Delano Roosevelt Drive. It wasn’t much easier to reach the shores of Brooklyn, Queens or the Bronx, either: with a few exceptions, they were largely reserved for municipal or industrial use, and easiest to see from the Staten Island Ferry (en route to the borough with the most beaches). Now, slowly, the city is reclaiming its shoreline, with some spectacular results.

Dutch Boy by Bridget Talone

OBJECT: Headless Dutch Boy Figurine

BODY OF WATERDead Horse Bay

 

Dutch Doors open disjointedly: a dark Cartesian dream. Say hey: the head swings here without the body. While down below, a body beasts beneath the head: wild as the waters, beating its chest. All brawn: bah dum bum dum bum dum.

Open the top door: I want to tell a story: (a bee walks its weeping seams, getting his black gams gummy). In the beginning, to be headed anywhere was to be alive: believing in the here to there: the better to best soft traps along the taffy path.

In the beginning we lived in the city. In the end we died inside a child’s drawing of the water: impaled on the sharp Vs that spelled out our oblivion. I thought I’d shell the story: I thought I’d seek its secrets in the soup: a pilgrim: I would trouble it like a fork.

Treading open water, I tried to yell the story: Helicopters, help me not! The command came down anyway, choppered: Try using I statements. But the trick to Dutch Doors is togetherness: one without the other and you’ll never keep the weather out:

you’ll never batten down. In the end, the only way to quell a story is more story. Truth truth truth truth truth truth: I slapped at it, trying to stay upright. You took my precious head with you— But what does it matter: Disengage: the bottom door is mine.

I’ll be all we swallowed: be figurine and miracle: be pregnant with the dregs. Who lives headless inside the word until: whose feet scrape together: a rusty obsessed song—And Still.


Bridget Talone has an MFA from the Iowa Writers Workshop. She lives in Philadelphia and is an Assistant Editor for Saturnalia Books.