Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, GRAND ARMY PLAZA, by KAREN SWENSON



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GRAND ARMY PLAZA, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: 10:00 at night in brooklyn
Last Line: Where the sky salts a wither of grass.
Subject(s): Architecture & Architects; Brooklyn, New York


10:00 at night in Brooklyn.
10:00 at the Plaza of the Grand Army.

The hills of the Plaza lie salted in snow,
the barren trees reach from lamp to lamp
around the circle of apartment houses
swatched with lights,

and at the far end, the arch under searchlights
shines its mouth of neither entrance nor exit
against the nighted trees at the beginning of Prospect Park.

The arch of the Grand Army,
an imitation of the Washington Square Arch,
an imitation of the Arc de Triomphe,
imitation of the Arch of Trajan,
which imitates an infinite number of victorious openings;

and if you set them up in your imagination,
a series of croquet hoops reaching back to Adam and Eve,
who stand joined by epaulets of snow
in the fountain at the middle of the Plaza,
they are an arcade of ages
with Victory in her chariot
grassed greener than graves by the rain
always rearing her bitted horses at the top.

In the bereavement of belief more real than their lives,
they died for Grant's bronze uptown tomb,
for Lincoln's marble throne -
in armor and anger, for flags and faces they died -
for the Invalides' concrete courtyard of glory,
for the Colosseum's ancient malocclused bite
against a bright sky.

Snow seasons the bulldozed man-made hills
at the Plaza of the Grand Army
and beyond no searchlight condones the trees in Prospect Park,
where the sky salts a wither of grass.





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