Above the Fray

©2014 CEStankiewicz all rights reserved

While in New York City for work last week, I had an opportunity to extend my business trip and enjoy a mini-vacation, so I took it.

I stayed an extra two days, spending the night at a friend‘s apartment near the Queensboro Bridge. It’s a marvelous place, modest and cozy and full of light, thanks to the living room’s wall of windows overlooking 59th Street and First Avenue.

Whenever I visit, I love to just sit and observe the motion of Manhattan through those windows.

From my perch on the 16th floor, I watched cabs streaming down First Avenue and 59th and across the bridge. I saw a fabulous thunderstorm creep in from the southwest, slowly and ominously filling the space over the skyscrapers with darkening billows of blue-gray. And, best of all, I had a front-row seat to the comings and goings of the Roosevelt Island tram.

Because it’s a commuter service, if you’re watching during morning or evening rush hour, you’ll see it pass back and forth quite often, every 5 minutes or so. Of course, for a shutterbug like me, it provides an abundance of photo ops. But wouldn’t you know it, the one time I didn’t have a camera handy, I spied something unexpected. Because I didn’t rush to find my iPhone or little point-and-shoot Canon, I don’t have a record of what I saw. Well, except for what I wrote about it.



Wide-awake red
against hazy Manhattan morning,
the tram glides into view
two dozen stories above First Avenue
and I’m startled to spy some guy
propped atop it —
blue-uniformed, one leg perched
on the big-riveted beam holding cabin beneath cables;
Washington crossing a river of cabs and commuters.

He looks brave to me.
But as the tram passes I see
he’s simply standing there on the rather wide roof,
catching a ride, I guess, to the other side.
He must just be doing his job,
checking mundane mechanisms,
gears and belts and wheels,
ready to find and fix
any glitch in the system.

I happened to look up and spot him,
but did the passengers know
he stood guard over them?
Island to island,
a solitaire sentinel,
arms left loose at his sides–
heroic enough for not holding on,
this Manhattan mechanic.

Probably I alone
witnessed his sureness
for those few minutes
on the Roosevelt tram rooftop
when he was King of the World —
or at least
the Upper East Side.

©2014 Carlotta Eike Stankiewicz

©2014 CEStankiewicz all rights reserved