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. 

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