When I was six,
my father used to take me
to the firehouse on Wadsworth Avenue
in Washington Heights
to visit the black and white dog
and to ring the silver bell
above the silver bumper
on the front of the fire engine
with the silver dollar he took out
of his pocket and placed in my hand.
Then we crossed the street
to the hobby shop where I watched
the electric train chug round
and round on its round silver track.
Some years later,
with my mother in department stores,
I would look at the silver jewelry
in the jewelry counter, but never the gold.
And still, it is the moon I love,
not the sun.
It is the moon I love,
even one night into new, even one night from none,
even then when it is but a sliver
it is the moon I love.
I Want a Fireman's Funeral
I want a fireman’s funeral when I die.
I want to be sent off by the older generation
of firemen and the younger generation of firemen.
I want the flag at the firehouse to fly at half-staff.
I want the black and purple funereal bunting to be draped
over the big doors of the brick firehouse.
I want flowers on top of the pumper at the head of the procession,
white lilies and yellow lilies and red carnations,
all resting on a bed of long green ferns.
I want my black rubber fireman’s boots standing reversed
next to the other boots not reversed on the back of the pumper.
I want the fire trucks following the pumper polished
and gleaming, their red lights flashing silently,
the hook and ladder, the rescue vehicle, the chief’s car.
I want all the brass polished and gleaming in the sunlight.
I want all the chrome polished and gleaming almost
to blinding in the sunlight.
I want the mascot, the Dalmatian, sitting in the pumper
next to the driver acknowledging the people along
the route of the procession.
He will miss the morning scratch behind the ears I gave him.
I want the older generation of firemen in their just
washed cars following the fire trucks,
trailing drops of water of the road.
I want the younger generation of firemen in their just
washed cars following them,
trailing drops of water on the road.
Had I known how stately and ceremoniously beautiful
is a fireman’s funeral,
I would have become one.
But I did not know, and I did not become one,
and I feel sorry for myself,
for I will not have a fireman’s funeral when I die.