Crossing Brooklyn Ferry


What is it, then, between us?   
What is the count of the scores or hundreds of years between us?   
Whatever it is, it avails not — distance avails not, and place avails not.   


I too lived—Brooklyn, of ample hills, was mine;
I too walk’d the streets of Manhattan Island, and bathed in the waters
          around it;   
I too felt the curious abrupt questionings stir within me,   
In the day, among crowds of people, sometimes they came upon me,   
In my walks home late at night, or as I lay in my bed, they came upon me.   
I too had been struck from the float forever held in solution;
I too had receiv’d identity by my Body;   
That I was, I knew was of my body—and what I should be,
          I knew I should be of my body.   

It is not upon you alone the dark patches fall,   
The dark threw patches down upon me also;   
The best I had done seem’d to me blank and suspicious;
My great thoughts, as I supposed them, were they not in reality meagre?
          would not people laugh at me?   
It is not you alone who know what it is to be evil;   
I am he who knew what it was to be evil;   
I too knitted the old knot of contrariety,   
Blabb’d, blush’d, resented, lied, stole, grudg’d,
Had guile, anger, lust, hot wishes I dared not speak,   
Was wayward, vain, greedy, shallow, sly, cowardly, malignant;   
The wolf, the snake, the hog, not wanting in me,   
The cheating look, the frivolous word, the adulterous wish, not wanting,   
Refusals, hates, postponements, meanness, laziness, none of these wanting.

Walt Whitman, 1819-1892

Kyla Tompkins