Mica Schist

St. Nicholas Park in Harlem is one of few spots
on the island of Manhattan where you can stand
on terraces of rock untouched since men
with surveyor's tools stood on them
to deliver the bad news, back in the last 
century but one: Gentlemen, here is a substance
we cannot move.  So they built around,
below and above, leaving this uneven
pleat of ground, rocks surfaced between the trees
like whales in strips of sun, stunned to find themselves
landlocked among buildings, illuminated
at night by lamp posts.   The old maples and oaks,
roots plumbing the hill as humans could not,
whisper of what's below: more rock—more rock—more rock.

Reprinted by permission of Louisiana State University Press from Floating City by Anne Pierson Wiese. Copyright © 2007 by Anne Pierson Wiese.