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TOWARD THE VERRAZANO

Poem by Stephen Dunn

Up from South Jersey and the low persistent

pines, pollution curls into the sky

like dark cast-off ribbons

and the part of us that’s pure camera,

that loves funnel clouds and blood

on a white dress, is satisfied.

At mile 127, no trace of a tree now,

nothing but concrete and high tension

wires, we hood toward to Outerbridge

past Arthur Kill Road where garbage trucks

work the largest landfill in the world.

The windscreens are littered, gorgeous

with rotogravure sections, torn love

letters mauve once-used tissues. The gulls

dip down like addicts, rise like angels.

Soon we’re in traffic, row houses, a college

we’ve never heard of stark as an asylum.

In the distance there it is, the crown

of this back way in, immense, silvery, 

and in no time we’re suspended

out over the Narrows by a logic linked

to faith, so accustomed to the miraculous

we hardly speak, and when we do

it’s with those words found on picture postcards

from polite friends with nothing to say. 

Above photo: Arthur Kill Road, Staten Island, New York (1973), EPA Photo from National Archives.

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Note: The title refers to the Verranzano Bridge, a suspension bridge that connects Staten Island and Brooklyn (see photo at left — U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Snyder)