Summer 1984 • Vol. VI No. 3 Voices in American Poetry |

Lines Written in a Pittsburgh Skyscraper

It has taken me three yearsto come to this view.I know now that the bodyis a river, whose bones and musclesand organs are flowing.I have watched their shapesin the molded Allegheny,contained and onrushing, below bridgeafter bridge vertebra to the Ohio,a brown river that stillpowers the mind, lying longin the trestle arms of this citywhose sentence is hard labor. Eye-level atop a churchacross the street, St. Benedict the Moorstands open-armed and giant,his back turned to the fumingof a ghetto where some eveningsthe brightest visionis the flash of a streetlampon a jogger's white Nikes. At night, the red sirensspinning mute across the riverconverge like pulsarsat some accident or crime.An hour later, one pulls off,hovers at a distance.All is gesture and sign. My students are the childrenof coal miners, who watch the groundswallow their fathers each day,sometimes even digestingthe trapped men, turning their bonesback into lime, into coal.It is the oldest fear:that Earth may rec

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Poet, essayist, and naturalist, Diane Ackerman is the author of two dozen highly acclaimed works of nonfiction and poetry, including The Zookeeper's Wife and A Natural History of the Senses.

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Soft Lens

By Diane Ackerman

It has taken me three yearsto come to this view.I know now that the bodyis a river, whose bones and musclesand organs are flowing.I have watched their shapesin the molded […]

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