Sunday, November 26, 2006

Gone but still here

Public baths,
11th Street, East Village, Manhattan
built 1904
now a single-family home

I sip
rum and cokes
and blur
the here and now
at an East Village bar
steps from the tenement
where a midwife delivered my father
99 years ago

I rise
on stuttering feet
and walk
around the corner
past the old public baths
on 11th Street
between Avenues A and B
an abode now for well-heeled tenants
but through a rip in time
I see the place where my father
watched his father
get clean
after days of manual labor

I pass
the public school
where my father's mind was nurtured
its classrooms now luxury apartments
with big closets

I hear
idle chatter

stock portfolios
reality TV
real estate prices
but it can't drown out

of ancient immigrant sounds
whose meanings can be inferred
but not quite understood

I walk
these streets
with ghosts

My dad's childhood home
born there in 1907
Sixth Street
between First Avenue and Avenue A
East Village


Michael said...

I like the feeling and flow of this. I've always been fascinated by the lives that existed in the spaces we inhabit. I've never been able to draw a direct connection like you. Nevertheless, it's a great illustration of impermanence.

Michael said...

Hi Michael,

Thanks for your comment!

Yes, I'm very lucky in that I can draw a direct connection not only to a specific apartment but to an entire neighborhood.

This connection is formed from vintage photographs I've seen and the reminiscences of my dad and his younger sister.

I'm especially grateful that I obtained a wealth of information from my aunt before she died recently at age 95.

Now, the onus of remembrance is on me.