Russell Shorto

High Wire

The pale embarrassment of dusk
The distemper surrounding those round green lights:

Sometimes I wish my fingers were younger.
But then they were, weren't they?

We knew nothing before of what the earth
Today opens for us, its legs

And inner heart, its shall-we-say
Fire. Don't cry. Squiggles of written

Scripts we don't know make as much
Sense as all of this, but we're fine:

You, me, these stars that don't exist
Above my head, the strangers there,

Packed singly in their silent umbras.
All okay, all fine, all humming to feel their lips

Glowing with the minor glory of friction,
Which tells them they are owners

Of blood and sweat and the damage
They have caused, leading to where we come to rest.


About the Author

  I was born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. I have three children (Anna, Eva and Anthony) and three step-children (Reinier, Hector and Benjamin).  I write books of narrative history; I believe history is most meaningful to us when it manifests itself through individuals in conflict. My books have been published in fourteen languages and have won numerous awards.  I am senior scholar at the New Netherland Institute and a contributing writer at the New York Times Magazine. My interests include the past, the present and the future, not necessarily in that order.  

photo by Keke Keukelaar