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Grand Central, Track 23

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I forgot to tell you it's almost time to go.
The sun has distilled its particular worn essence
And the glittering trout is flipped on the bow.   

A man asks me what time it is. I don't know.   
I have emptied my purse and wept in the presence   
Of onlookers. I forgot to remember to go

Before eleven, when the steely arrow
Shot swimming to its underneath, tense
As a stream of salmon in reverse below

The laureled, relentless clocks. The sceptered row
Of columns dreams one o'clock, immense,   
Inviolate. What time is it? I don't know.   

This story concerns the night I tried to go—
Though many times I flopped into the silence
Of orange plastic seating like onto the bow

Of a lonely ship, and felt my breathing slow.
The frail, retreating stand of columns prevents
The clocks from telling me time and time again to go.   
At my feet, a glittering trout swims past the bow.

"Grand Central, Track 23" by Elizabeth Skurnick from Check In, published by Caketrain Press. Copyright 2005 by Elizabeth Skurnick. Reprinted by permission of the author.
Source: Check In (Caketrain Press, 2005)
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Grand Central, Track 23

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  • Elizabeth Skurnick was born in the Bronx in 1973 and grew up in Englewood, New Jersey. Her first collection, the Pushcart Prize–nominated chapbook Check-In (Caketrain Books, 2005), was recently reissued. Skurnick, who “rhymes, mostly,” as she herself puts it, combines traditional formal structures with contemporary and original subject matter, as her villanelle, “Grand Central, Track 23,” elegantly demonstrates. Eliza Griswold has said of her work, “Brilliant, compassionate, gorgeous and deeply funny, Lizzie Skurnick’s poems are concerned with what it means to be a human, and a woman, at the awkward beginning of the 21st century.” Skurnick’s reviews and criticism have appeared in the New York Times Book Review, the New York Times Sunday Styles section, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, and more. Her blog of much notoriety, The Old Hag, led Forbes.com to call her “one of the smartest bloggers on the Web.”

    A freelance writer, Skurnick lives...

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