Ghost on the River
Somehow you never noticed it in the sunshine,
in the dozens of trips to and from the city
over the last decade or more.
Perhaps there were more interesting things to look at
in the bright of day. Forests all green and moving,
the river blue in the afternoon sun, ships
plying their way to Albany. Or perhaps
you were in your own world, seeing things not yet there,
paintings, demons, historic novels of truth.
But today you see it. A ghost on the river,
something not quite clear, grey walls
and greyer windows, dark eyes
suggesting a dark history, all of then
staring blankly out at you and the train you ride,
not quite malevolent, not quite trustworthy,
it stares and you stare back,
like two animals, unsure who is the preditor
and who is the prey, unsure if the ghost is lover
or an ex with an ax. And then,
for this is what trains do, it passes,
into the early morning fog. So faint no one
pays it any mind behind their newspapers and phones,
invisibility by familiarity. And then it is gone,
but the chill, somehow is not. You tell yourself
that you will look for it on the trip back two days hence,
but by then, you are worn from the constant energy
of boulevards and bankers
and you sleep through the whole ride,
missing it, missing everything but the haunting,
lingering in your dreams, just out of sight,
unsure if it is a ghost behind you, or ahead.
About this poem.
The picture was taken on one of my train trips into New York City. I have never actually seen this building in the sunlight, but it made enough of an impression on me that I snapped it as we made our way to the City. I’ve been carrying it around for years, waiting for the poem to catch up with the picture.
My poems written at night are a lot different than the morning poems. I think I am less innocent at night. My dreams reset me.