Journal of Writing & Environment

After the waltz ends and the calliope stops,

there is still the squeak and grind of ponies,

the groan of wood and nineteenth-century

carousel mechanics. All of it floats into

the city, fills the ponds of Central Park,

which collect miscellaneous sounds,

store them in archival layers, replay them,

randomly, on quiet Sunday afternoons

in November. Sometimes, on warm September

mornings, you can hear Dvořák’s In Nature’s Realm

rising like mist off the pond where boys come

to sail model boats. If you slip quietly

into the north end of the Conservatory Garden,

the girls splashing in the fountain singing Mozart arias

will keep singing; and on windy days,

sculptures on the rooftop of the

Metropolitan Museum of Art

hum like medieval monks.

Even the hotdog vendor on Fifth Avenue

whistles Brahms while he fills his trays

with white napkins someone will use

to scrawl the first notes of a symphony.

The Juilliard student who passes the stand

always whistles back.

Already he is generous with his art.

Just this morning, he brought his

mallets to the Brooklyn Bridge

and played the planked footpath

from one end to the other,

testing each board like a surgeon

checking the reflexes of a patient’s knees;

counting how many octaves

separate Brooklyn from Manhattan,

how much music one must play

to connect two boroughs at daybreak.