Pier Fifty-four
by Alexander Motyl

They’ve finally stolen my pier

I found it in ninety-four
When I settled in Chelsea
Discovered the river
Inhaled the cold air
And froze on the waterfront
While the snow hid the Hudson
And the wind sliced the waves
Terrifying good burghers
With the effrontery to stray
From the safety of their city

I claimed Pier fifty-four as mine

It beckoned to Hoboken
Where Brando the bum
Once gave Eva some gum
And proved he was a contender
The tip tilted and broken
The scarred surface with ruts
From hand trucks and carts
That once gouged its expanse
While ships slid alongside
And kerchiefs fluttered like butterflies

It became mine in ninety-five

It was the year Henry died
And I rushed to the pier
That cold morning
As the ice floes were moaning
As my tears were flowing
And the sight of the ice
And its preoccupation with space
While the world was collapsing
And humanity was groaning
Stopped the tears from flowing

They removed the tip in the nineties

They put a fence in its place
But the pier still stayed mine
The one place in the city
Where rain struck my face
With ferocity and no pity
The one place in the city
Where I could curse its alacrity
And sing snaillike dirges
Defiantly and hopefully
Expectantly and joyfully

I buried Henry at the pier

In ninety-nine
And later
I buried three loves in the water
I tossed pictures
And letters
And gifts
And memories
And tears
And quarrels
And fears

That’s when they said
Enough is enough
Enough with the tears
Enough with the memories
Enough with slow spaces
That spat in their faces
So they seized my pier
Sawed it in two
Said No to Trespassing
Said no to tossing
Said no to hoping

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