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Summer water speaks slow,
curves its syllables
around windows’ edges.
Coos at the wave’s end,
a gentle shush, clicks 
its tongue and retreats.

In daylight, where slosh stills 
it steams, the canals hiss.
Wet evaporates—from statues’
heads, stone arches, walk-up
roofs, back to itself, unfastens
from dark depth to blue sky.

No leaves are left to fall,
no trees breach the surface 
but hued light refracts 
through thick buildings’ 
glass cores, swirl colors 
from land’s lost palettes.

In winter the kelp fronds 
freeze along FDR Drive 
like a field of sea mines.
My oars sometimes clang
the street signs, Wall, Bowery, 
Broadway—objects brined

in second story saltwater, 
when the Atlantic’s liquid 
hooks reached uptown 
and fastened Manhattan
to its ice-melted heart.
Left us to discover new 

seasons stirred edges,
sluiced with old debris
at the smooth lines 
of high water marks, 
dark against concrete 
like the pencil trails 
my parents drew yearly
on the wall, above my head
to note my filling in
the space we had left.


Steve Wheat is a Renewable Energy professional creating virtual powerplants that use thousands of homes to displace fossil fuel production and was formerly a teacher of English as a Second Language, and instructor at the Writer’s Studio in San Francisco. He often publishes work about the climate and changing world as well as essays about place. 

© 2022, Steve Wheat

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