My Manhattan (with doors)
I spent my childhood in Ohio and Maryland,
but for most of my life I’ve lived in Manhattan.
The name comes from the language of the Lenape people,
recorded in the ledger of Henry Hudson’s ship, Half Moon, in 1609: Manna-hata.
“the place where they gather wood to make bows”–
the Lenape valued the hickory trees of Manhattan.
My first residence was a dorm room on West 27th Street;
My first job was in a clothing store on Lexington Avenue.
The Number 1, the 42nd Street Shuttle, and the Number 6–
those were my first subway lines in Manhattan.
My work offices were mostly in the Garment Center on Broadway,
but one was on the Avenue of the Americas in Manhattan.
When I freelanced most of my clients were located between 34th Street and 42nd Street–
but I also worked for people in the West Village, on the Lower East Side, and in Soho in Manhattan.
I have lived on or near West 21st, 27th, 82nd, 95th, 111th, 113th, 135th, 152nd, and 162nd Streets,
and on Bank Street, Hudson Street, Broadway, and West End Avenue in Manhattan.
Clinton Street was where I lived in Brooklyn–
but it didn’t take me long to return to Manhattan.
The Garment District, the West Village, Chelsea, the Upper West Side, Morningside Heights, Harlem, Hamilton Heights, and Washington Heights—
those are the regional names of the places I’ve lived in Manhattan.
I have always wondered if my Dutch ancestors, the Van Lents, lived in New Amsterdam–
or if I am the first descendant on my mother’s side to reside in Manhattan
Sherry at earthweal asked us to consider the names “of the places most beloved to us.” I don’t think she was thinking of cities, or of numbers as names, but Manhattan island is, and has been, my home, where my history resides, for 50 years now. And many of its names are numbers.
For Thursday doors, I could only find photos of the front doors of 3 of my residences. I took the top one recently–it’s my first uptown apartment, a Columbia University building, where I moved during a transition period in my life. A former roommate, then a Columbia grad student, lived there with her roommate and a rotating series of friends and boyfriends.
Here’s the inside of the apartment door where I spent the early lockdown of the pandemic. Not very appealing. But my windows looked out on the subway and a playground and Broadway. Noisy but light.
Here’s the inside door of my apartment now–much more to my liking, even though you walk right into the kitchen. And I also have lots of light, my top priority in a living space.
My poem was inspired by Natasha Trethewey’s wonderful ghazal “Miscegenation”.
And you can join in Thursday doors here.
The Kick-About #37 ‘Punu Ngura’
My work this week channeled inspiration from both Peter Mungkuri and Claudia McGill. And I hope Nina will pay special attention to the painted stones. Another wonderful selection of creations.
As a bit of a gardener myself, I am endlessly enthralled by the sheer variety of plants and their various habits and habitats: our previous Kick-About featured a uniquely rare blossom, and this week, it is artist Peter Mungkuri’s celebration of the treasured trees of the Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands of north western South Australia inspiring us to produce new work in a short time.
“My mind instantly wantedto create some cyanotypes,with their mesmerizing deep Prussian blue and infrared white, a process that is always a joy and I never tire of.”
I take Mr Mungkuri’s works to be about a sense of place, memory and stewardship of his country. I tried to evoke a similar sense of capturing memories and the way they integrate but change and blur.
“This image was an…
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in the absence of words (phantom doors)
an enclosure without an opening–
doorways poised between
not-here and not-there
bones left as signs, portents–
bordering a journey
not memories—those are too real
Merril Smith provided the above image prompt, by Benton Spruance, for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday this week. I’ve written another sevenling poem in response.
I’ve been collecting what I call phantom doors and windows for awhile now, and Spruance’s image of 30s home foreclosure fits well with these haunted spaces.
Is something being kept in or something left out?
You can join in Thursday doors here.
Day Thirteen Poem: Scarecrow Visits Van Gogh’s Wheatfield in Auvers
Robert Okaji is raising money for Brick Street Poetry. This is his wonderful response to my suggested title “Scarecrow Visits Van Gogh’s Wheatfield in Auvers”
halfway (Thursday doors and more)
mark not words, but boundaries–
you call them kindred
because they verge on your dreams
waves of receding
spirits returning like stars,
still and glittering
naked and exposed inside the lens of your life
My first sevenling poem, for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday challenge with synonyms for family and peace.
I took the above photo on Broadway, somewhere in the 80s I think. If you look closely you can see my headless figure.
This door belongs to a Con Ed substation at 110th and Amsterdam. The building itself is unmemorable, but I like the design of the door.
I spotted these flowers a few weeks ago when walking in Riverside Park. I had never seen what I thought to be an oak tree flowering before.
I could not figure out its identity until this weekend I saw it had seed pods. They were instantly identifiable online–jimson weed.
A toxic member of the nightshade family, although it does have medicinal and hallucinogenic uses. Evidently animals know to steer clear, but humans fall prey to its effects on a regular basis, not always accidentally.
And I wanted to share the view of the tower of light taken from my window Saturday night.
You can join in Thursday doors here.
The Kick-About #36 ‘Phantom Of Surrealism’
With its sepia tint, post-card proportions, and London landmark, this week’s prompt, Sheila Legge’s Phantom of Surrealism, might just as easily have surfaced as part of our previous Kick-About, inspired by the word souvenir – though, as holiday snaps go, this one could take some explaining. This week, Legge’s abstruse tableau has prompted paintings, collage, computer-generated landscapes, creative writing and some rather extraordinary headgear… Happy browsing!
“This prompt made me think of world conditions acting on Surrealists – where do movements come from – so my response is a meld of the flower head with environmental issues, and how I think the level of denial everyone has, to so many issues, comes into play.”
“Using the kind of desert backdrop that sets the stage of many surrealist paintings, I set out to create some of my own phantoms in the desert, and had a…
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