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Saturday, May 16, 2020


by Kate Bernadette Benedict

Even after the crisis eases, companies may let workers stay home. That would affect an entire ecosystem, from transit to restaurants to shops. —The New York Times, May 12, 2020

Indeed. This lobby is marble-graced.
Heels would echo as workers raced
for pinging elevators, though some stopped
at newsstands first, where they’d opt
for breath mints and a morning paper.
Here’s a New York Times, with vintage
headline. Centennial of Brooklyn Bridge.

Let’s go up, let’s press floor 43.
Bad art, glass walls, a ficus tree.
Outside : virtual sky and steeple.
Inside: holograms of busy people
dressed like Peggy and Joan and Draper.
Here’s a typewriter. Hear it clacking?
Pages on the side for stacking.

What a time it was! It ended.
Congregating got suspended.
The energy of streaming streets.
Uptown, Mad Men; downtown, Beats.
Coffee smells and carbon paper.
Towers went up and towers fell,
a simple virus fouled the well.

So let us praise Manhattan
as it used to be
and marvel that we worked that way
in harmony
in soaring buildings
that caught the sun
and let in moonlight too.
Eras end. History gives them due.

Kate Bernadette Benedict, of New York City, is the author of Earthly Use: New and Selected Poems.