Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Silent Sea

The Silent Sea
I walked, today, towards the waiting sea.
And soon enough, near sunset, I was there.
I saw it stretching outwards, dark and green,
towards the circle where the sky descends…

And standing there, by that Atlantic shore,
I saw the westward sun go slowly down
behind the Verrazano’s arches.  East                   \1
was Coney Island, arcing boldly south –
and in-between – the dark and silent sea…
How often, once, I'd walked along this shore…
How rarely I had come, in recent years,
to visit here, a leisured walk from home –
and yet another world – and still for free…

When hurricanes come storming up the coast,
the waves then pound upon the rocks that men
have laid, creating land, where only sea
had been before.  And just two years ago,
the sea swept in, as humans watched in awe…    \2
But here, this evening, as I write these lines,
the light is fading – and the breeze, though brisk,
does little to perturb the placid sea...
A time to breathe, to meditate and be…

The tide is low, with mossy rocks exposed.
A gull stands watch, as people walk the shore…
The sea is silent, but the people talk...
I hear their voices, and the tongues they speak    \3
are many, softened by the sky and sea…
Behind me – traffic, whooshing down the “Belt”. \4
I turn my head and see the headlights’ glare.
And turning back, there’s still that sea, that sky…
I wonder, marvel, asking – why, oh why?

A little pause – for peace – and then it ends…
So many marvels, men and women make –
and yet – our slaughters rarely ever end…
There was a time, when we had reverence
for Nature – and, perhaps, for life as well…
And when I'd lost my sister, then I came
to walk along this shore and ask the sea
the questions that I asked it yet again
when both my parents died – with me away…

I rise – and make my lonely way towards home,
in a pensive mood, at peace and yet aware
of all the problems that are mine – and those,
unsolvable, it seems, that plague our race…
The sea is silent, as the stars appear…

2014 July 22nd, Tue.
Gravesend Bay, Brooklyn


1.   The Verrazano suspension bridge, built in the 1960’s,
connects Brooklyn to Staten Island, crossing the Verrazano
Narrows, which separates Lower and Upper New York Bays.
In 1776, British forces crossed the straits, from Staten Island
into Brooklyn, routing Washington’s army at the Battle of 
Long Island.

Verrazano Bridge, from Gravesend Bay, Brooklyn, looking west


2. Hurricane Sandy, coinciding with a full moon and high tide,
caused much devastation in the region in the Fall of 2012.

Sandy approaches New York, October-end, 2012,  (c) Carlos Ayala


3.   Among the languages I have frequently encountered in this
area are: Spanish; Quechua and other Native American languages
of Central America; Portuguese; English in its many varieties;
Haitian Creole and French; Arabic; Italian and its dialects (this
having been, until recently, an area dominated by immigrants
from southern Italy and Sicily); Sub-Saharan languages; Albanian;
Yiddish; Romany (Gypsy) dialects (related to the Indic tongues);
Russian and other Slavic languages; Greek; Turkish; Georgian;
Armenian; Hebrew; Farsi (Persian); Uzbek and other languages of
Central Asia; Gujarati, Punjabi, Urdu-Hindi, Nepali (Gurkhali),
Bengali, Tamil and other languages of the subcontinent; Tibetan;
the Chinese dialects (several distinct spoken languages, unified by
a common, ancient ideographic script); Burmese languages;
Vietnamese; Korean; and many others.

4.  The Belt Parkway expressway that girdles southern Brooklyn
and Queens runs mostly along lower New York Bay.  In this part of
Brooklyn, this busy highway is often just a few yards away from
the walkway along the shore, separated from it by a narrow strip
of grass and small trees.

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