Gone

Washington Square, 2020

From my window, I see the world
without us in it: a vacant park,
a silver maple sheltering no reader;

a cherry tree dressed like a bride betrayed,
her wedding canceled; a dogwood tree
whose whites will fall without regretful eyes.

No baby strollers; no candy wrappers
stuffed in bins; just a sign, “NO bicycles,”
and memories of skateboard pirouettes.

Around us, death: the numbers spin the mind.
Fever dreams. The last breath held, alone.
I had not thought death had undone so many.

This park reminds us it was once a field
for the unclaimed dead of galloping yellow fever.
Construction workers dug up skeletons

that had lain for years beneath our footsteps.
Death in the hanging elm, a rooted gallows.
Now the clear air, pollution-free, is poison

for walkers, while trees stand stern, immune.
Sad paradox. For comfort, I recall:
Camille Pisarro would have lingered here.

He painted Paris gardens from a window,
having left his island’s sprawling shores
for tighter scenes — but he gazed at people,

matchsticks from above, in ones and twos.
Below, the park’s unlittered paths are mute,
But wait: just now a mournful, prayerful sax,

unseen, from somewhere, unlooses notes,
calls me to the window, and I hear
the sounds I can’t imagine days without.

Grace Schulman

Grace Schulman

Grace Schulman's forthcoming book is Again the Dawn: New and Selected Poems, set for November, 2022 (Turtle Point Press). She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and has received the Frost Medal for Distinguished Lifetime Achievement in American Poetry. Her eighth book of poems is The Marble Bed and her memoir is Strange Paradise: Portrait of a Marriage (both Turtle Point). Editor of The Poems of Marianne Moore (Viking), she is Distinguished Professor of English at Baruch College, C.U.N.Y.

Among her other honors are the Aiken Taylor Award for poetry, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award, and five Pushcart Prizes. About her poems, Harold Bloom has written, "Grace Schulman has developed into one of the permanent poets of her generation." Schulman is former director of the Poetry Center, 92nd Street Y, 1974-84, and former poetry editor of The Nation, 1971-2006.
Grace Schulman

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Author: Grace Schulman

Grace Schulman's forthcoming book is Again the Dawn: New and Selected Poems, set for November, 2022 (Turtle Point Press). She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and has received the Frost Medal for Distinguished Lifetime Achievement in American Poetry. Her eighth book of poems is The Marble Bed and her memoir is Strange Paradise: Portrait of a Marriage (both Turtle Point). Editor of The Poems of Marianne Moore (Viking), she is Distinguished Professor of English at Baruch College, C.U.N.Y. Among her other honors are the Aiken Taylor Award for poetry, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award, and five Pushcart Prizes. About her poems, Harold Bloom has written, "Grace Schulman has developed into one of the permanent poets of her generation." Schulman is former director of the Poetry Center, 92nd Street Y, 1974-84, and former poetry editor of The Nation, 1971-2006.