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Poem: Departs Penn Station 1:05 PM 

Midday train to Albany I take a window seat

left side I need to see to trace the river

Two talkative women take the seat behind

I move forward find a pleasant island No one

in front of or behind me

The train begins to move twelve minutes

in deep dark then the vague light

West Side Highway George Washington Bridge

Out of Manhattan the train picks up speed

and the world becomes what the river gives

its rocky edge skirting the occasional warehouse

the riverside parks The Hudson where people

have been having their way with the world

for hundreds of years The river reminds me

how old I am

Heading into the city four days ago

across the aisle two young women jabbered

in Dutch What do they know about Henry Hudson

What do I

Soon the Tappan Zee the new bridge growing

next to her older sister A line of paired pilings

Workers skittering up and down the half built piers

months perhaps years to go

A tug painted to match the barge it pushes

Belly full of oil pumped from a tanker in Albany

Hundreds of black balloons strung between

the interstate's north south lanes

Indian Point what I am waiting for comes

into view The twin reactors across the river

nudge the shore My politics once so certain

now diffuse After a brief flurry I am back

to passing through barely noticing The reactors

still reacting strangely comforting perhaps because

we go back a fair amount of time

And then West Point sullen glinting even

without the sun The train continues pushing past

the blah landscape colored by the blah weather

We are coming up to Beacon the bridge

to Newburgh I swam across the river here

Twice as a matter of fact Hundreds of swimmers

swimming in the name of Clean Water

Pete Seeger still around then singing us off in Beacon

and then as if spirited by some force there he was

in Newburgh as we climbed from the river still singing

"If I had a hammer"

Today the river is as gray as the day Perhaps

it is slack tide those few moments twice a day

when saltwater mingles with fresh

Not mixing merely touching planes riding

one another a frictionless friction where rivers meet seas

Two places in one time this place where I will stay

  • A poem by Margo Mensing.

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