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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.

As If Waiting to be Set: the Whirling Lost Objects, in Space by Rebecca Pyle

OBJECT: Formica Dinette

BODY OF WATER: East River

There is a Formica dinette in the East River
Manhattan
Sitting upright
As if waiting to be
Set. 

Right off 16th Street.

But carry me to the logic
Of the table:  it is the compass
Whether it is square, or round, or oblong
Or patterned with fake pearl or wild mica bits
Making it here, everywhere, like
Flattened sheared gem.

Set the hands, like the long ends of mustache
Working their way all over the table-clock
Clock, celebrating the earth-and-ground-glory of the train:
The locomotive the steam engine headed anywhere to the
Railmen’s tune:  Greenwich Mean Time.

All the train-men always checking their watches; they’ve
Systemized the world.  Dinner’s on time, so’s surly breakfast,
So’s travel. 
Forget the sun making its dimple biscuit somewhere or
The moon larding us with its cold-plate oyster-cream;
Pity the sun and
Moon, they’re the whirled or whirling lost objects
In space.

We have math, we have time.

Oh, we had time. 


Rebecca Pyle graduated from the university beloved by the Wizard of Oz, the University of Kansas, where she very long ago won the Edna Osborne Whitcombe, Edgar Wolfe, and William Herbert Carruth writing awards:  three first prizes.  Thank you, Mr. Oz.  Her work appears lately---as poetry, short stories, or paintings---in Constellations, Stoneboat, Wisconsin Review, New England Review, Hawai’i Review, Indian Review, and Raven Chronicles Journal, among others.  Her art website is rebeccapyleartist.com; she lives in Salt Lake City, Utah---the Great Salt Lake visible, not too distant.