The Lake in Central Park

By Jay Wright b. 1934 Jay Wright
It should have a woman's name,
something to tell us how the green skirt of land
                                           has bound its hips.
When the day lowers its vermilion tapestry over the west ridge,   
the water has the sound of leaves shaken in a sack,   
and the child's voice that you have heard below
                                                          sings of the sea.

By slow movements of the earth's crust,
or is it that her hip bones have been shaped   
by a fault of engineering?
Some coquetry cycles this blue edge,
a spring ready to come forth to correct   
                                    love's mathematics.

Saturday rises immaculately.
The water's jade edge plays against corn-colored   
picnic baskets, rose and lemon bottles, red balloons,   
dancers in purple tights, a roan mare out of its field.   
It is not the moment to think of Bahia
and the gray mother with her water explanation.   
Not far from here, the city, a mass of swift water   
in its own depression, licks its sores.

Still, I would be eased by reasons.
Sand dunes in drifts.
Lava cuts its own bed at a mountain base.   
Blindness enters where the light refuses to go.   
In Loch Lomond, the water flowers with algae   
and a small life has taken the name of a star.

You will hear my star-slow heart
empty itself with a light-swift pitch   
where the water thins to a silence.
And the woman who will not be named   
screams in the birth of her fading away.

Jay Wright, “The Lake in Central Park” from Transfigurations: Collected Poems (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2000). Copyright © 2000 by Jay Wright. Reprinted with the permission of the author.

Source: Transfigurations: Collected Poems (Louisiana State University Press, 2000)

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Poet Jay Wright b. 1934

Subjects Love, Men & Women, Relationships, Romantic Love, Heartache & Loss

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Jay  Wright


Frequently described as a “poet’s poet,” Jay Wright has quietly built an impressive career as one of America’s leading African-American voices. His work, praised for its evocative language, introspective tone, and mythological imagery, has won many honors, including the Lannan Literary Award for Poetry, Guggenheim and MacArthur fellowships, and Yale’s prestigious Bollingen Prize. Wright’s plays, essays, and poetry generally . . .

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SUBJECT Love, Men & Women, Relationships, Romantic Love, Heartache & Loss

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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