There is a bridge in Prospect Park that is
But I walk over it anyway
and I go beyond the collapsed fence that
wards you off from its edges
and I peer over the bannister at the
beautiful lagoon below
with its shallow yet mysterious water
which is a world unto itself –
a world of sky and turtles –
for water and sky are one –
and turtles and birds within them.
And I remember a long time ago –
when I first looked down into this
lagoon and saw it leading away
and I was young and ready to follow roads –
as I still do.
But I used to go there and become almost
mad with being lost by the lagoon
mad with the woods –
mad with the day and its gold and my
solitude among it.
Mad with my own young murderable beauty –
like some crazy screaming bird –
yet silent – exultant –
pale and screaming with solitude beside
the water –
the silent song of solitude surrounding me –
with its splashes and flutters of wind
and strange shrieks of birds.
And then through the leaves black boys
on bicycles came crashing –
shrieking with laughter –
and I stood still, frozen with terror –
“They are going to kill me” –
feeling myself so murderable there among
the woods –
on the black side of the park –
so murderable by teenaged black boys
on bicycles –
how could they resist murdering me –
a boy trying to be a tree among trees –
but a tree who has not stopped being a boy –
a young man in love with himself as he was
at seventeen –
when he first set out on his wanderings.
This was where his wanderings had led him –
to this abandoned place.
I imagined living there by the lagoon –
that I was that boy I once was,
still living there among the trees.
When night fell, though, terror overcame me
and I left the park and went home.
But that boy stayed there among the trees.
I imagined his life –
that I had been alone all these years.
I was a man of twenty-seven who lived in a
strange rooming house with his sister
and drank and went to night clubs.
But I was that boy I once was.
I lived by the lagoon.
I had not spoken in years.
I had drifted away from humanity.
I peered out from among the leaves.
I look out of my eyes.
I am alone.
This all took place long ago –
in the summer of a book I began to write,
but a real summer as well –
the summer I first found that abandoned place.
That was years ago.
The book is written.
The book is long since finished.
The boy lives in the book.
But I think he is still there by the lagoon.
I think I must have thought that I could
be that boy again.
I still do.
If I spent one night by the lagoon
at dawn I would be gone
and that boy would be there, watching
from the leaves.
But in all the years since I first found that
place I have never dared spend one night
I have always been too frightened.