Poem by Marilyn Zuckerman
1930 – 1944
At every corner,
down every street,
I pass my younger self
—crossing Manhattan bridge at dusk,
lights in skyscrapers coming on,
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,
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.