Homage to New York

Poem by Marilyn Zuckerman

Radiator Building - Night, New York, 1927 by Georgia O'Keefe

Radiator Building – Night, New York, 1927  | Georgia O’Keeffe

1930 – 1944

At every corner,
down every street,
I pass my younger self
—crossing Manhattan bridge at dusk,
lights in skyscrapers coming on,
the elevated
carries me
across the river,
still longing for the city
just as it is slipping away.

.  .  .

Adolescence on Central Park West
in the art deco twin towered building called El Dorado,
staring down like Rapunzel
at the moon filled reservoir.
Mornings, father drives me to school
along the West Side Highway
where huge, four stacked, black-sided troopships,
once called Queen Mary or the Île de France,
up 5th Avenue
in the lunchtime swarm—
meeting Mary Alice at Schrafft’s,
tourists, shoppers,
businessmen off to the Oak Room at the Plaza.
A taxi through the park at night
the skyline a backdrop from a Busby Berkeley musical.
Stopping for a drink at the Sherry—
an airman is going overseas tomorrow,
the sharp smell of his uniform.
But it is only the city I love.


I lived the first half of my life in New York City (Manhattan and Brooklyn) and in summer at beaches from the Jersey shore to Montauk on Long Island. Loving New York as though it were a person, I grieved for it when I left for other places as though someone I loved had died.

So when Hurricane Sandy struck first New Jersey and then New York on Monday night, October 29th, I was stunned. Though used to seeing journalists reporting from distant disasters—this was my hometown, the place where I was born and where I raised my children.

The pain went on for days as I followed destruction of the beaches, houses smashed or destroyed by fire, watched the lights go out, hospitals evacuated, subways flooded, saw images of first responders trudging up twenty-five flights to rescue or care for the home bound sick and elderly. I watched as the high tides of the full moon left Manhattan under fourteen feet of water only to learn that over one hundred people had died in the New York area since Monday.

Now I let these last lines from Walt Whitman’s “Mannahatta” be my mourning song:

City of hurried and sparkling waters! city of spires and masts!
City nested in bays! my city!

.    .    .

“Homage to New York” from the forthcoming chapbook , NY NY.


PNA Swoosh


4 thoughts on “Homage to New York

    • We’re so fortunate to have Marilyn contributing her poetry to this space! I feel like I’m not only deepening my appreciation of the art with each post, but my respect for the subjects she turns her keen eye towards. Wonderful work.

  1. This is a lovely post, Marilyn. Especially at this time of year, as the days are getting darker and shorter. It makes me think of myself as a young woman in Minneapolis, hurrying down the snow covered downtown streets, bustling about buying Christmas presents for my family, thinking of stories my beautiful maiden aunt told me about doing just the same thing in the same place when she was a young woman. Your memories telescoping on my memories telescoping on my aunt’s memories. Just what poetry should do, I think.

  2. Pingback: Homage to New York - Marilyn Zuckerman Marilyn Zuckerman

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