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Memory in Plain English

From: New England Review
Volume 34, Number 3-4, 2014
pp. 64-65 | 10.1353/ner.2014.0036

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

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

to get back on. It’s a perverse rule invented
to prevent the homeless from sleeping too
deeply through winter nights on the heated
boat. Every evening finds the city pinching
its 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 of
malt onto gummy floors within fluorescence
that 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 step
out momentarily onto land. You stare back

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

organic? You could not have your romance in
this century, Lady. Someone would either step
on your foot or puke on your shoe, and that
someone would not apologize. See that young
couple, their bodies blue with intricate tattoos,
trading their tongues in public? It’s not just

true, Vincent, it’s scary: I too once knew what
it was to move between islands through night’s
tender. 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 those
night-rides, my love on the Staten Island Ferry.

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.

Copyright © 2014 Middlebury College Publications
Project MUSE® - View Citation
Cate Marvin. "Memory in Plain English." New England Review 34.3 (2014): 64-65. Project MUSE. Web. 28 Feb. 2014. <http://muse.jhu.edu/>.
Marvin, C.(2014). Memory in Plain English. New England Review 34(3), 64-65. Middlebury College. Retrieved February 28, 2014, from Project MUSE database.
Cate Marvin. "Memory in Plain English." New England Review 34, no. 3 (2014): 64-65. http://muse.jhu.edu/ (accessed February 28, 2014).
T1 - Memory in Plain English
A1 - Cate Marvin
JF - New England Review
VL - 34
IS - 3
SP - 64
EP - 65
PY - 2014
PB - Middlebury College
SN - 2161-9131
UR - http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/new_england_review/v034/34.3-4.marvin.html
N1 - Volume 34, Number 3-4, 2014
ER -


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