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  • Weekdays I went down into the tunnels,
    rumbled under the dark river, counted bright stops,
    emerged into the palace of Grand Central,
    rose to the 24th floor, where I looked down
    the uninterrupted stretch of Park Avenue
    and VIP flags of the Waldorf Astoria,
    to the west a view of Rockefeller’s tower.

    On Saturdays I’d ride. Neither high nor low,
    I stayed on the ground. I went places.
  • To my right
    the broad boulevard broken by stoplights,
    impediments that sharpened the view,
    women skirted and scarved pushing strollers,
    Hasidic men in scholarly dispute, chess players,
    babushkas on benches taking a load off.
    People lived in houses here.

    All the way to Coney Island
    and the hollowed, rusted rides,
    the freak show I never entered,
    the aquarium under renovation.
    I ate hand pies hawked by Puerto Ricans
    on the pier, watched the men drop cages
    baited with raw chicken and pull up crabs.
    Cerveza fria sold from sagging grocery bags
    dripping ice melt as the men trudged
    drunkenly through the sand to make a buck.

    There were children looking over the rail
    and out at the sea who grew up this way.
  • To my left
    down the street where Marianne Moore
    lived in a prim, satisfactory four-flat,
    over Hart Crane’s bridge into the city,
    the stately, inflexible park of City Hall,
    the banking industry of Canal Street,
    banners of SoHo, six miles of books,
    cheap socks of Chelsea, my Midtown, now quiet,
    over through diamonds or fashion or flowers,
    right up some far Western Avenue and back
    to the Park. I covered as much of the earth
    as I could cover block by block.
  • One night when I still lived in Westchester
    I left my bike at the Pelham station overnight
    and returned to find it stripped, all wires gone,
    and hacked at with some blunt instrument.
    Somehow the lock kept its promise.
    I carried the torso two blocks to the bike shop
    where almost everything was replaced.
  • I shipped that scarred machine, my steed,
    to California and rode it again, hard,
    up the hills and deep into the Eucalyptus forest,
    over all the burnt hills of Silicon Valley,
    to every movie theater and bookstore within reach.

    After those years of lonely, terrible beauty
    were through, I sold it for $20 and bought a car
    and moved to Chicago. My parents thought
    it meant I was growing up at last, my first new car.

    And maybe it did. I know I never saw as much
    of the world from that car as from my bicycle,
    which took me so much farther than I ever expected,
    from sea to shining sea.

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