Friday, September 12, 2008

mannahatta


yesterday was an emotionally exhausting day for me. i stayed up late wednesday night watching the film "world trade center," which isn't likely the best film ever made, but is certainly a way to get yourself crying like a baby on your couch at 1:30 in the morning.

i followed that up yesterday afternoon by watching a cbs documentary about 9/11 called "what we saw," which is basically much of the newscast they had on that day. i sat on the same couch and cried some more.

later last night, after the kids were in bed, i was flipping through the channels and couldn't flip past the history channel where they were airing a show called "102 minutes" which basically tells the 9/11 story through the lenses of 6 or 7 people who documented the day on their own handheld camcorders. absolutely fascinating to see a completely different perspective than what i have seen before. same couch, same result.

so i am exhausted today. and i am thinking a great deal about how much i love new york city. i have never lived there, of course, but there is a part of me that regrets that. i would love to be a new yorker (other than the cost of it). and even though i've never lived there, i still feel connected to that city somehow. i've been there many times, and i only live about 54 miles from ground zero (i've made it from manhattan to my garage in under an hour).

and as i have been in this kind of fog today, thinking about the city and the journey it has been on, along with the whole country, these last seven years, i (literally) stumbled on an old book with a great poem in it (i love the look/smell/feel of old books, so we have many of them lying around our house. jack must have found one and left it on the floor, where my foot found it). it is an old english and american literature primer from 1939. near the end it has some walt whitman poems, which i am drawn to, and i found this little gem which i share with you today.

MANNAHATTA
I was asking for something specific and perfect for my city,
Whereupon lo! upsprang the aboriginal name.
Now I see what there is in a name, a word, liquid, sane, unruly, musical,
self-sufficient,
I see that the word of my city is that word from of old,
Because I see that word nested in nests of water-bays, superb,
Rich, hemm'd think all around with sailshipos and steamships,
an island sixteen miles long, solid-founded,
Numberless crowded streets, high growths of iron, slender, strong, light,
splendidly uprising toward clear skies,
Tides swift and ample, well-loved by me, toward sundown,
The flowing sea-currents, the little islands, larger adjoining islands,
the heights, the villas,
The countless masts, the white shore-steamers, the lighters, the ferry-
boats, the black sea-steamers well model'd,
The down-town streets, the jobbers' houses of business, the houses of
business of the ship merchants and money-brokers, the river-streets,
Immigrants arriving, fifteen or twenty thousand in a week,
The carts hauling goods, the manly race of drivers of horses,
the brown-faced sailors,
The summer air, the bright sun shining, and the sailing clouds aloft,
The winter snows, the sleigh-bells, the broken ice in the river, passing
along up or down with the flood-tide or ebb-tide,
The mechanics of the city, the masters, well-form'd, beautiful-faced,
looking you straight in the eyes,
Trottoirs throng'd, vehicles, Broadway, the women, the shops
and shows,
A million people--manners free and superb--open voices--hospitality--
the most courageous and friendly young men,
City of hurried and sparkling waters! city of spires and masts!
City nested in bays! my city!

1 comment:

Crafty P said...

too bad you couldn't come over and keep vinny company that night. I was in the basement and walked upstairs to see him watching that documentary "102 minutes"... I was frozen by the images of that day long ago. he recorded it to watch another time...

however, I do not care to relive them as he so often does.

vin thrives on that 'constant coverage' that the news likes to give us.

me, not so much.

I guess I relived and remembered it all in my mind and that was plenty.

ps. i cannot believe you discovered music on MY blog. wonders never cease.