instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads

A Woman Kneeling in the Big City (1992)

A Woman at Ground Zero

Time to time,
I feel a knotted sun,
solar plexus, rise
like the underside
of the city

here are the emptied hollows
where water ran;
there, brokenhearted cuts
for unearthed cables
stripped of our copper current
and our voices;
underneath, the twisted rails
of complicated trains

that couldn't get there from here.
And I think, So it was all
built too fast by no one—
in short, on sand—
and so fell through?

I forget the facts,
the jackhammers and drivers.
The slow-swung crane:
the culvert lowered into the pit,
daylight moving shoals of orange
helmets over it. I forget the hands
shading the eyes that long to see

a wide, completed
with caravans
of flagged and yellow trucks
parading between tall trees, a joyride,
barreling over the worksite—

because that has not yet happened.
And because that has not happened
I see a scavenger wheel, alone alive,
over an upturned city,

and find a hard, unhopeful woman in my chest
from time to time.

©1992 Elizabeth Macklin.
Reprinted with permission of W. W. Norton & Company.