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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.

Once (Always) by Kate Overgaard

OBJECT: Ice Cream Trucks

BODY OF WATER: The Rockaways

 

Lost boy,

Shipwreck in my life.

When your little hand found mine,

Suddenly

We were home,

You and I,

Meant to be

Tied with a seemingly tenuous knot,

Not of blood or biology,

But meant to be.

The current

Dragged you under and away

And—eyes closed—

My fingers released you.

Leaving me to drown in the loss of you,

Never to utter goodbye to you.

A rusted reef of ice cream whispers

In the depths of the Rockaways,

Cradled in the cool waves

Around my beating heart,

Still drowning.


Kate Overgaard is an English teacher who holds an M.A. in Creative Writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University. She lives in New Jersey.