Liquid Past

Liquid Past


We all live on the Hudson, America’s only true river. It’s

a driveway, a landing strip, and a dead end. The Hudson is not the only river

to become a school, but it is the only one once beheld by the likes of George

Washington, Melville, and Sir Winston Churchill. The Hudson is a work of art

surrounded by cathedrals first seen by Thomas Cole, Church, and Cropsey.

It is the river of Allen Ginsberg and Malcolm X. The Hudson crosses the country

from the Atlantic to the Pacific, linking Boston to San Francisco. Look at a map.


The Hudson doesn’t only contain water; it embodies all that is known

and then some. It holds the land. It encircles the earth. West Point,

that cool cat school where men train to remain calm under fire,

lies in the river valley, in Cheever country, where his swimmer drank

until he lost track of where he was going.  Hyde Park to the north, Yonkers to the south:

lose one’s way and end up in the Bronx, not far from that immortal stadium,

just up from Maya Angelou’s Harlem. Not as far west as Buffalo, not as far east

as the Berkshires, where Edith Wharton once made guests feel cosmopolitan.


Somewhere in the Connecticut forests can be found the best: Philip Roth

standing at his desk, concocting stories of lust and loss, not far

from Bellow’s Hudson, where he trained lions. There they lived

in the shadow of their depression-era hero, FDR, who stuffed bird carcasses

and dreamt of flying. They lived by the pen in the shadow of that river,

from Peekskill to Newark, bought and paid for in its youth,

once owned by Cornelius Vanderbilt, a man not taken in by Huck Finn’s brand of jive.


The Nile might be longer but this eerie canal runs deeper. The Hudson’s

not only a river but an artery. It’s the life blood of this nation. Unlike

the Mississippi, the Hudson doesn’t flood. It runs full force into the sea.

It takes its time and then picks up at Poughkeepsie. It’s not called

ol’ man river because it’s young and feminine. A real dame, she

minds her own business. The tears of the Iroquois add to the river’s flow.

They’re what give the river depth. The Amazon runs black, filled with piranha

and cashew husks, but the Hudson feeds on pine and beaver fur, English

blue bloods, and greedy Dutch.


The Hudson runs through steel country, not rubber plantations,

navigated by men dressed in black, not adventurers in panama hats.

This river, an aqua duct of despair and hope, now runs clear.

FDR’s backyard has been spared. Vanderbilt’s ships are gone; the

river prevails. It is New York’s longest running show, surpassing Broadway

Baby by a millennium. Its lights never dim. Sharks can’t swim upstream.

Corn floats. This river flows to the base of the Statue of Liberty. It soaks up

the ashes of burning buildings. Corpses float to the bottom. Debris is

carried out to sea. The Hudson will always be a safe spot to land.

David Lohrey

David Lohrey is from Memphis. He graduated from UC Berkeley. His plays have been produced in Switzerland, Croatia, and Lithuania. Several are published online at ProPlay. Internationally, his poetry can be found in Otoliths, Tuck Magazine, and Southword Journal. In the US, recent poems have appeared in New Orleans Review, FRiGG, Obsidian, and Apogee Journal. His fiction can be read in OJAL, Dodging the Rain, and Literally Stories. David’s newest collection of poetry was published last year by Sudden Denouement Publications.

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