Two paths diverged, but both lay smashed like sea ice, and I
took the more neglected one, moss-veined and amiably decayed,
that flicked an asphalt tongue down Central Park’s brambled backbone,
with roller-coaster dips and swerves, and antic air of indirection.
Maybe it was born the same year I was. Maybe I should read its kinks
like tea leaves– time’s calligraphy of hairline cracks and crannies.
Or like the palm of my hand– headline and heartline set in opposition,
runes of uncertainty, mounds of incongruity, the lifeline also crossed,
then swerving off in fresh directions. I chart these quirks forensically,
noting how the seasons have unpaved this pavement world, spoiling
the builder’s best laid schemes and plans. The gnarled geology
of the heart: more twisted than Manhattan schist: calving isles
of memory, rutted out by tears in spate, slathered with the sediments
of forgetting, swelling here, constricting there, encroached by sands.
What sober mind can understand? Two paths diverged.
But all paths heave and crumble, become at length untraceable,
the sharp made blunt, the rigid supple. Today this rain-slicked
tarmac glistens, exhaling snakes of steam. This world escapes itself
like vapors in a dream. Still, something in these ruins speaks.
And something listens. Saplings thin as prayers, flags of new grass
rising from the freaks of cleavage, the fault lines we’ve neglected,
the moldered stones that the builder rejected.
Richard Schiffman is a writer based in New York, and a former journalist for National Public Radio. He is the author of two biographies: Mother of All, and Sri Ramakrishna, A Prophet For the New Age. His poems have appeared or are upcoming in Alaska Quarterly Review, Poetry East, The North American Review, Southern Poetry Review, 32 Poems, Rattle, Valparaiso Poetry Review, The New York Times and many other journals. His “Spiritual Poetry Portal” can be found at:http://multiplex.isdna.org/poetry.htm
Return to January 2012 Edition