restricted access Memory in Plain English
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Memory in Plain English

We were very drunk and not very merry.Always, it seemed, the dismal end to ourevenings met us at the Staten Island Ferry.Lady, they don’t let you go back and forthanymore, not all night, not ever. You wantto take the boat back? You’ll have to get off

to get back on. It’s a perverse rule inventedto prevent the homeless from sleeping toodeeply through winter nights on the heatedboat. Every evening finds the city pinchingits pennies. No, it’s not merry: it is squalid,the ferry, and it is drunk beyond all means,

as the crowd heaves to spill its gut-burst ofmalt onto gummy floors within fluorescencethat appalls all. Let’s face it, you’re a tourist.You’re the kind who never leaves the boat,except for if or when you let your eyes stepout momentarily onto land. You stare back

at windows; overhead lights allow reflectiononly of the boat’s interior and its inhabitants.It’s a mirror you were after. Now any beggarwould scoff, scorn your offering of fruit; it’slikely a product of a genetic transmutation.Are those pears and apples you’re handing me

organic? You could not have your romance inthis century, Lady. Someone would either stepon your foot or puke on your shoe, and thatsomeone would not apologize. See that youngcouple, their bodies blue with intricate tattoos,trading their tongues in public? It’s not just [End Page 64]

true, Vincent, it’s scary: I too once knew whatit was to move between islands through night’stender. We loaded ourselves up onto that ship,drunk as all get-out to get home and make out.Bad endings aside, I still miss most of all thosenight-rides, my love on the Staten Island Ferry. [End Page 65]

Cate Marvin

Cate Marvin’s third poem of poems, Oracle, is forthcoming from W. W. Norton in 2014. She teaches at the College of Staten Island, City University of New York.