We’re delighted to present Licht by Dan Kraines, selected by series editor Steve Bellin-Oka as Number 27 in our Robin Becker Series.
Publication: July 29, 2022 [100 copies]
Dan Kraines teaches creative writing at the Fashion Institute of Technology and works as an ela teacher for underserved students. He holds a PhD in poetics from the University of Rochester and lives on the Lower East Side.
Crossing Staten Island Ferry
The night is warm, though the river
seems glacial. You keep blood orange beers
in your bag for me, as I face the dazzling
Statue of Liberty, almost at her feet,
and I feel like I am seeing her, in this way, as I never have,
but the lit spikes of her crown are exactly what has taken
my mind to a better place before. We recount
our families’ escape to America again, as if searching
for some story that will bring us closer, as if I am drifting
into the clouds just away from the rail where you stand.
Your scarf brings out the very greenness of your luminescent
green eyes; it ruffles in the wind, as if hinting
at what you might be feeling,
now that we are together again, on this ferry, in autumn.
This time, I tell myself, I will move closer to you, as you offer
me another beer out of your bag, as we shuffle
to the other side of the boat. I wish
I were not a man. Glacial secret. I have only one,
as if the secret were not frozen and solid and massive
but a hole, a channel of empty traveling to the floor
beneath the water that circles this island city.
Does anyone ever think about how low
this floor would take us, if we dove to it?
We go low enough to travel, taking the subway
under streets, rivered under gravel and water,
descending only as far as finding our way requires.
I am in it for the song. We take the trip back and depart
to the dock, where men cast fishing lines, and wait,
and I feel you are waiting, as if the advance at night made
us more intimate, as I deny what is obvious. A line is taut.
The fisherman reels in a baby shark. This cannot be.
There are no sharks in the Hudson. Disgusted,
you ask me if he will cast it back, wondering,
then saying, Cast it the fuck back.
The fisherman takes off his Yankees hat, turns to us
and says that he will eat the shark.
He holds it up, unhooks it, and slaps it across the mouth.
He throws it onto the pavement,
where it lies, dying,
as we walk quickly off the dock,
saying goodbye to one another, then parting,
before going back underground.