Tim Dwyer


Ray’s Story

Holiday travelers are on their way

to museums, the Yankee game or Broadway.

After passing Croton on the Hudson,

with the Tappan Zee coming into view

and bare palisades across the river,

cold begins to fill and cover me.



I couldn’t help myself.

Even though the hurricane missed land

and the morning was sunny and clear,

I grabbed the rain jacket

as I left the house.

When I boarded this train

I was still a husband.

When I get off,

I will still be a father.


Absolution rides next to guilt.

The men in mismatched clothes

board the train at Sing Sing,

sit close to me. Later,

they’ll struggle with metrocards,

stare at muni-meters and Vespa scooters.

It’s someone else’s city now.


Forgiveness does not arrive

as I pass George Washington Bridge.

It’s not in the tunnel

after 125th Street. 

It may be somewhere

beyond Grand Central.


I understand too late

how fear disguised as respect

and I failed to hold close

the ones I love.


Stepping on the platform,

for once I do not rush.

The crowd could be leaving church

on a holy day of obligation.

Dropping the newspapers

in locked metal cages,

a collection for the poor in spirit.


I take the subway

to Williamsburg, the automated voice

announcing every stop.

Climbing up from the station,

the Hasidic men have gone.

Young hipsters and pretend hipsters

fill the streets, the shops and bars.

I’ve become the graying ghost,

staring from a once familiar corner

of North Sixth and Bedford.



You arrive sooner

for Earth no longer

tilts as far

but you still bring the heat,

put us on notice

that you’ve returned.


Now the ordeal, the gauntlet

of festivals for everything,

yard sales, picnics by the lake

barbecues in backyards

weddings, graduations

passages of life

as life passes on


Oh summer, summer

Season when days grow shorter

Season of the endless plans

never ending possibilities

that may never ripen

trips that are canceled

or never come to be

the Cooperstowns and Coney Islands

missed for yet another year


And yet

there will be

that unannounced time

a walk around the subdivision

the detour through the pocket woods

where the twitter of an unknown bird

or the first yellow stripe

on a fluttering maple leaf

as the evening cool

lowers its gentle sheet

and welcomes the uninvited

hoping to make their entrance

in the fall

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