“Tosca With Man in Bedrock”

Listen to Anne Winters reading this poem.

The Met’s first winter broadcast, Tosca, amberized
in her ivory court dress, lets fall
one by one the pure drops of the Vissi d’Arte,
while the cantilevered mezzanine, underlit,
bright-eyed in its nests of stoles and fur tippets, hangs
breathless … Straight down, past sallow platforms, sewer
outfalls and steam lines, the man in the bedrock
sidesteps in his worklamp’s flattened yellow,

spools out more wire, lowers his radio probe
to the back of a rust-ridged centenary main
fed by watersheds in the still half glacial Catskills—

and hears, through bellcurves of pings, each note
rebound off his shaft of preCambrian schist. Grey, void—
the Manhattan Schist, laid down too early for fossils.