Central Park: An Anthology, A Poem, A Hot Day's Celebration

Thursday, July 5, 2012

At the close of a warm day I discover this news in The New York Times—Andrew Blauner has edited an anthology on Central Park (called Central Park: An Anthology) featuring reflections and celebrations from Colson Whitehead, Paul Auster, Jonathan Safran Foer, Susan Cheever, Mark Helprin...and my friends Brooks Hansen and Buzz Bissinger, among others.  You can read the whole Michiko Kakutani review here, but if you have time for just three paragraphs, I share these, about and from the Bissinger essay: 

In Buzz Bissinger’s case, the view from his childhood apartment on Central Park West provided a window on a changing New York City. Just as he loved the boyhood ritual of going to the park with his parents on Sundays, so he later loved the ritual of sitting with his dad in front of the living room window overlooking the park. 

Mr. Bissinger’s father died in 2001, his mother four months later, and when the rent zoomed from $2,700 a month to $7,000 to $10,000, he and his sister were forced to let go of their treasured home. Looking back now, he says he realized he never felt closer to his family than when they were sitting in the living room, looking out the picture window at the panorama of those 843 acres below.
“I thought we would last forever,” he writes. “In a way I cannot quite explain, I felt a sense of immortality because Central Park was immortal, that everything would always stay the same.”
Reading all this takes me back to a Central Park day I shared with my friend Rahna Reiko Rizzuto.  In celebration of the book, then, in celebration of Andrew, Buzz, Brooks, and Reiko, and in celebration of warm summer days, I share (again) that poem here.

From where we stood, on the castle rock
Of Central Park, Harlem was as near as
Twenty years ago.  Everything
Between then and us was green.

The pond turtles were stacked up like stones
On stones.  The trees were a day away
From shucking their own shells.
The red wing of a black bird was like a hand
That had been dealt, and we were the splendor
Sight we had given ourselves.

Afterward, it was Amsterdam to Broadway,
Columbus Circle down to the sweet
Remembered squalor of Times Square,
And on every corner:  Song.
The high hollows of the Peruvians,
The mesquite of a jazz trombone,
The Mennonites in hairnets and black sneakers.

I wondered later whether we had become
The engine of concatenation,
Two women made radical
With unappeasable want,
The unassailable desire to remember.


Melissa Sarno said...

Central Park is extraordinary and I love the bit about the song on every corner. Oh yes...it was a hot, hot summer day.

Serena said...

Sounds like a good book. I've only been to Central Park once and it was a whirlwind visit. I should find more time to spend there.

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