The Rate of Disappearance.
The Rate of Disappearance
Reading a magazine excerpt this morning,
from a new study published not by some crackpot theorist
but by a prestigious scientific journal,
I learn that New York, Boston,
Miami, and Holland are certainly doomed.
Since we are not taking our role in global warming
seriously enough, the oceans are likely to rise
nine inches within sixty years,
more than a foot within a hundred,
and before the next two thousand years
of what we have come to call The Common Era
have elapsed we're looking at eight feet.
The new, more frequent, more violent hurricanes are one thing,
but it's hard to imagine that any system of walls,
landfills, or pumps can hold back an entire ocean, and so
I wonder if some freshman class on one of Harvard's higher hills
may survey the broad estuary the Charles has become and laugh
that they, at least, have dodged the bullet;
or whether a father can explain to his child horizonless color
from the desiccated remains of tulip bulbs
they find stuck to the rafters of a ruined barn;
or if perhaps lovers on houseboats will be listening
in the fetid twilight to some vestigial rumba or merengue
as they drift in houseboats over what used to be South Beach
or if mothers pushing strollers on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade
may look west to a shriveling Manhattan and make some silent peace
with the rate of disappearance.
I can see myself at their age, careening along
in a subway, scarcely looking at the book in my lap
but re-seeing a scene in a play or a face across a bar,
or turning a corner on the Upper West Side
smack into a bitter midnight wind,
bending toward some future.
I watch until
the tunnels and canyons fill
with an alien liquid gray,
and then I turn the page.