Crossing the Square

By Grace Schulman b. 1935 Grace Schulman
Squinting through eye-slits in our balaclavas,   
we lurch across Washington Square Park   
hunched against the wind, two hooded figures   
caught in the monochrome, carrying sacks

of fruit, as we’ve done for years. The frosted, starch-
stiff sycamores make a lean Christmas tree
seem to bulk larger, tilted under the arch
and still lit in three colors. Once in January,

we found a feather here and stuffed the quill   
in twigs to recall that jay. The musical fountain   
is here, its water gone, a limestone circle
now. Though rap succeeds the bluegrass strains

we’ve played in it, new praise evokes old sounds.   
White branches mimic visions of past storms;
some say they’ve heard ghosts moan above this ground,   
once a potter’s field. No two stones are the same,

of course: the drums, the tawny pears we hold,   
are old masks for new things. Still, in a world   
where fretted houses with façades are leveled   
for condominiums, not much has altered

here. At least it’s faithful to imagined
views. And, after all, we know the sycamore
will screen the sky in a receding wind.
Now, trekking home through grit that’s mounting higher,

faces upturned to test the whirling snow,
in new masks, we whistle to make breath-clouds form   
and disappear, and form again, and O,   
my love, there’s sun in the crook of your arm.

Grace Schulman, “Crossing the Square” from Days of Wonder: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 2002 by Grace Schulman. Reprinted with the permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved, www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com.

Source: Days of Wonder: New and Selected Poems (2002)

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Poet Grace Schulman b. 1935

Subjects Marriage & Companionship, Winter, Living, Nature

 Grace  Schulman

Biography

Poet and editor Grace Schulman was born in 1935 in New York City, studying at Bard College, American University, and New York University, where she earned her PhD. She is distinguished professor of English at Baruch College, CUNY, and served as the poetry editor of the Nation from 1972 to 2006. She also directed the 92nd Street Y Poetry Center from 1973 to 1985. She has published six collections of poetry, including Days of . . .

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SUBJECT Marriage & Companionship, Winter, Living, Nature

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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