I’ve seen the painting of this hill,
its swollen belly reaching almost
into the river. Down the far bank
you can see West Point, sole sign
of human habitation, outpost of
government authority on the former
frontier. Decades later I stood
on the top, at the edge of the cliff,
that belly removed and crushed to gravel,
poured to make the Long Island Expressway.
We are always remodeling, digging foundations
or building golf courses or dams,
but here half a hill was removed
for someone’s profit. A few years further,
Timber Ridge, nearby, was scheduled
to be carted off as sand, saved only
by the endangered rattlesnakes.
Marble from Carrara, granite from Barre,
are torn out of the planet to be made
into art. But for highways? Sandboxes?
We tattoo our mother with meaningless
messages that will outlast human time,
blurry puzzles for the next
intelligences, crows or otters or whoever,
if evolution repeats that mistake.
Until 2003, David M. Harris had never lived more than fifty miles from New York City. Since then he has moved to Tennessee, acquired a daughter and a classic MG, and gotten serious about poetry. His work has appeared in Panoplyzine, Pirene’s Fountain (and in First Water, the Best of Pirene’s Fountain anthology), Gargoyle, The Labletter, The Pedestal, and other places. His first collection of poetry, The Review Mirror, was published by Unsolicited Press in 2013.