HUNDRED-MILE HOME

Poetry and Photos by Susan Petrie

troy-sewer-cap

EARLY EVENING ON 4TH STREET

Outside the Port
that mysterious fortress of Albany
circles a boy on a bike
with a bag of bottles and cans
texting, what does he know about flight?
Secrets of mastering pitch and roll and yaw.

The rudder’s the thing that steadies the yaw.
Glenn Curtiss’s sign pitched behind gates at the Port
Hell Rider, he named his plane the Hudson Flyer
our heroes scattered on signs around Albany
the boy sees what we don’t because he collects cans
circling with little wings on his bike.

Flying Glenn Curtiss first raced bikes
Frames, tires, body, mastering roll and yaw,
Built motorcycles, then a carburetor with soup cans
Fastest man in the world, but no one goes to the Port.
Our city’s history, littered like cans in Albany.
The boy with the empties circling on his street flyer.

ALBANY

MARGARET, 1938
SHE HAS BEEN SWIMMING IN THE ERIE CANAL

As if once
there was a canal

a Lock 1
she swan-dived

into the place
where there was a canal

she touched
touched, face first

into the water, slurried water
from a river

her friends dove in
dove in too, into the canal

where there was once a canal
and an intake valve

it opened, the valve
as if Margaret was fourteen

into the Lock
diving, intake valve open, an arm

Bev’s arm, locks around her neck
Margaret’s neck, saving her, the arm

when the intake valve opened
drew water down, down her

in it, with an arm, when the arm
around her neck, Bev’s arm would save her.

once there was a canal
as if it was here

once it drew
drew the world’s attention
drew water down. as if.

rainbow-and-river-2
fort-orange-sign
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THREE AXES OF FLIGHT

“In 1910, when the New York World Newspaper offered a $10,000 prize for the first successful flight between Albany and NYC, following the Hudson River, Glenn Curtiss again determined to be first, and did so in a craft he had named the “Hudson Flyer.” He won the prize money, nationwide recognition…”

Outside the Port
that mysterious fortress of Albany
circles a boy on a bike
with a bag of bottles and cans
texting, what does he know about flight?
Secrets of mastering pitch and roll and yaw.

The rudder’s the thing that steadies the yaw.
Glenn Curtiss’s sign pitched behind gates at the Port
Hell Rider, he named his plane the Hudson Flyer
our heroes scattered on signs around Albany
the boy sees what we don’t because he collects cans
circling with little wings on his bike.

Flying Glenn Curtiss first raced bikes
Frames, tires, body, mastering roll and yaw,
Built motorcycles, then a carburetor with soup cans
Fastest man in the world, but no one goes to the Port.
Our city’s history, littered like cans in Albany.
The boy with the empties circling on his street flyer.

HENRY HUDSON PARK

An eagle drawn from deadwood &
transparent river skin
herons drop in graceful pairs
across evening’s setting sun

Eastern shore, your homes are tilted
toward a river never still
on western shore, a sycamore
with cambered arms above

a rotting barge
now partially submerged
its fists of iron, fierce, forgotten
a century’s inventions slurred

Oblivious, this boy he’s playing
dodging tables on the green
wields his bow across the water
shoots an arrow from its string

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troy-from-uncle-sam-garage
beautiful-blue-hannacroix
new-balt_brick-roots
hannacroix-crab

RIVER GLOSSARY OF ENCHANTMENT

(And this is called a Glossary of Enchantment, which I learned about from writer Robert MacFarlane. These glossaries are used to give words that aren’t used very much some of their power back. These are Hudson River words.)

freshwater tidal           marsh

broadleaf                   spatterdock

pickerel weed

arrow               leaf

rosette-leaved aquatics

mud plantain

narrowleaf        cattail

river     bulrush            butter weed

wild rice

blue flag

bur-reed                       shoal

water hemp

sedges              estuary

joe-pye-weed

sneezeweed

spotted jewel weed

false pimpernel

monkey flowers

yellow iris

bittercress          sand flats           dredge spoils

fresh water intertidal mudflat

Susan Petrie had one of those wonderful, free-ranging childhoods, and she still loves to roam about. She is a native of Troy, NY, and currently lives in Albany. In 2018, Susan received an MFA in Poetry from Bennington College. Her book, Hundred-Mile Home: A Story Map of Albany, Troy, & the Hudson River publishes April 2021 (SUNY Press). To see more of her images, visit Clement Frame on Broadway in Troy, or her Instagram, @spetrie_100milehome.

susanpetrie.com

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