What a storm. Dark, choppy river, big whitecaps riding the cross-currents. In many places, the water is higher than my ankles — I might as well have left my shoes home. There are mini-floods everywhere. Going past tennis courts, lighthouse, bridge, I guess I don’t like giving up. Do or die, that’s me. My clothes are soaked. It’s a wet morning.
Up by the stone wall, there’s that woman. She’s watching the river, where a sloop is coming, sails reefed way down. It’s staying on the Jersey side, away from where the Hudson splits off to start the Harlem. Spuyten Duyvil was what they called the split, before engineers changed its course more than a hundred years ago to try to tame it. The current’s still wild.
I’m interested in the woman, but since I don’t want her to notice, I distract myself with silly fairytales: She’s homeless and lives by the wall with a clutch of kiddies. She’s devoted to some guy who across the river, and she comes to the wall just to look at him. The path is turning and I can’t see the woman anymore. The storm, flaunting its size, has made the path a stream.
Between me and the river is a sparse row of sea-beeches that stand tough, almost unchanging, year to year. It’s full-on summer and with the way the rain is weighing the trees down, I can tell branches are going to break. The ground is already covered with fallen leaves and twigs, which, combined with the water, make the going hazardous. Still, wanting to run, I shift into a lope, shaking my head, dog-like, to get the rain out of my eyes.
(This is the other side of the story in The Sloop on Motor.)