Time of the Missile By George Oppen

I remember a square of New York’s Hudson River glinting between warehouses.
Difficult to approach the water below the pier
Swirling, covered with oil the ship at the pier
A steel wall: tons in the water,

Width.
The hand for holding,
Legs for walking,
The eye sees! It floods in on us from here to Jersey tangled in the grey bright air!

Become the realm of nations.

My love, my love,
We are endangered
Totally at last. Look
Anywhere to the sight’s limit: space   
Which is viviparous:

Place of the mind
And eye. Which can destroy us,   
Re-arrange itself, assert
Its own stone chain reaction.
George Oppen, “Time of the Missile” from New Collected Poems. Copyright © 1962 by George Oppen. Reprinted with the permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.

Source: New Collected Poems (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 2002)

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