Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Solving New York

For the Gershons

From the rooftop terrace of this Brooklyn apartment
you can see all of Manhattan at once.

At this distance, the geometry of the city
is elementary, a gross estimation like the
Niels Bohr model of an atom or
Empedocles and his four great elements.

It is all sharp corners and great
tables of incandescent rectangles.
It is precise, calculated, and proportionate.
It reads like a novel.

But in the foreground, caught somewhere between
this balcony and the East River, is an old water tower,
perched like a great bird on a neighboring building.

The tower is curved and unbeautiful, its conical hat and
angled legs are a more complicated mathematics,
requiring exponentials, trigonometry, and that most tasty constant π.

And even closer, I notice the people around me,
their asymptotic conversations, the slopes of their speech,
the great equations of their nods, and gestures, and hands,
and hair- the bends of their noble, lithe necks,

and I think that surely these imperfections, these unsolvable equations,
these incalculable calculi are as rooted in logic as the prismic skyline.

And while it is certainly easier to solve the one variable equation
of this city, I hope those attempting to find a greater solution consider

the equation of the tongue, the volume of community, the weight of alone,
the variable of home.

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