Looking at Manhattan from the Tappan Zee Bridge

by Christine Potter
The Waters
Second Place, May 2016
Judged by Joan Colby


It’s fish-bone frail from up here, half-dissolved on the
horizon. The brown Hudson pulses with wind, and I
consider the usual portents of our destruction. Always,

the bullseye centers on Times Square. Firestorms or gas
or radiation orbits in tight and tighter rings of deepening
dread. Asteroids, terrorists, plagues: we direct them all

here to illustrate the legions dead, and who might survive.
On northbound trains in high school, I breathed slower
with each station behind me. But how to lose the cut crystal

of those streets at night, the electric glitter caught in sour
black puddles and dark office windows? How to forget
the seventeenth century silversmith with my father’s name?

After 9/11, we drove to western Massachusetts, but I couldn’t
sleep in the loneliness there. The whole world had been lost
somewhere outside those lovely little towns; some great

light was gone. Manhattan’s mute at this distance, but
the sun it shares with me is ancient, Dutch, seafaring. I
hear my own heart beat in its silence: home, home, home.


A strong poem with imaginative descriptions “the cut crystal of those streets at night”, “sour black puddles”. The poem in focusing on the post 9/11 scene evokes dread, heritage and the refuge of “home, home, home.” There is a haunting emotional component to this poem that resonates with the reader. --Joan Colby

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