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.

Heel & Key by KC Trommer

You step it & grind it

You grind it & step it hard
into the soft leather of your soft shoe.

Dancing by the river’s edge
to coax a small smile from her tilted head—
You fool! laughing, You fool!

Oh, you’ll do it twice for a right grin.
Boot straps & boot slaps.

No one knows you better’n me.
No one knows you better’n me.

This is how you walk it:         let the trip guide you to the soft bottom of the river.
This is how you turn it:         follow the slap of the leather over to the other shore.

KC Trommer’s poems have appeared in AGNI, The Antioch Review, Blackbird, MARGIE, Octopus, Poetry East, The Sycamore Review and other journalsA graduate of the MFA program at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, KC has been the recipient of an Academy of American Poets prize, as well as fellowships from the Center for Book Arts, the New York Public Library, the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, the Vermont Studio Center, and the Prague Summer Program. She lives in New York City with her husband, the writer Justin Courter, and their son.