Listening to Lawrence of Newark

by Marianne Szlyk 

Sounding like the Northern Lights
over a city of streetcars
and fried fish, of libraries
and bright murals, of children
daring past the edge of
hydrants’ gush, the organ ushers 
in the Ice Age scientists 
then promised.

Icebergs floating in the harbor
chill the Statue of Liberty
as organ and percussion entwine
in darkened Jersey City bedrooms.
A horn sounds like rain
freezing as it hits brick.
The cello is ice cracking.
Indoors, brown children watch snowflakes
fall over the summer night.

I’ve heard this album before
snapping and crackling on vinyl,
haunting shortwave radio at night,
spilling from an open window
in a neighborhood we scoured
for traces of the 70s, 
that decade of Summer Thing,
open libraries, and bright murals,
of convertibles and fried fish
Dad brought home for us.

I listen to this album 
during this winter without snow
as I grade student papers 
on climate change. I imagine
children knowing snow only from
picture books that they own
as warm rain falls even
in February and all libraries
are closed. 

Marianne Szlyk edits The Song Is…. Her chapbook, I Dream of Empathy, was published by Flutter Press. She is working on another chapbook. Her poems appear in a variety of venues including Of/with, bird's thumb, Solidago, Figroot Press, Cactifur, and Red Bird Chapbooks' Weekly Read.