Walking through the New York Times Square, I’m utterly in touch with the drama of this space. A curious dog from a small balcony Is barking to the crowds that have morphed into ghosts And now sit around in circles to listen to the beat of spectral drums.
Their fine-tuned acoustics send bass notes of “‘bang” Every time another human has reached the entrance of the bridge to heaven. I pass them, still their music rumbling through my soul In my way to the stump of the Three of Hope. I’m going to rub its surface asking that a mother will go back to her children, Asking that the daughter whom I had to zoom last night will see her father again, Asking for a new choreography in my ward, That would replace the sad with happy endings.
I walk, thoughts flood my mind, I feel alone ….I don’t want to be alone. How can I cross from socially distance to socially intimate? I stop thinking about physical nearness as the image of the ghosts gathered to listen to the drum’s concert sends shivers through my spine. I think about the stump of the Three of Hope and speed up my steps, If I could only save that mother for her children, If only that father would go back home to his daughter..
I wrote this poem a few months ago. It is about a doctor in NYC, when the city was in the middle of the pandemic. The Three of Hope actually exists in NYC. And there is a story behind it……
During the 1920s and 1930s, Seventh Avenue in the 130s was nicknamed the Boulevard of Dreams, a stretch of Harlem lined with top theaters and clubs such as the Lafayette Theater and Connie’s Inn. Between these venues was a lone elm tree (see it above) known as the Tree of Hope, bringing good luck to any up-and-coming entertainer who touched it before hitting the stage—as Fletcher Henderson, Ethel Waters, Eubie Blake, and others did.
The tree didn’t last, it was chopped down in 1934. When the tree was cut down in 1934 during the expansion of 7th Avenue, it was cut into logs and sold as souvenirs. A second tree was soon planted but that too met the ax.
Instead of it now there is a plaque, to remind of the place where the Three of Hope once was.
Crying, The tears of your eyes fall in the ashes, Scattered on the streets. Your thoughts don’t stand tall, But crumble with the buildings, Down on the ground beneath your feet.
You join the other countless voices screaming, And feel inside you fear carving the walls of your skin.
A man looks from a window and then he looks at you, He put his jacket on to keep him warm in his trip to eternity. You want to fly every time you take a step And grab the arms that rise from dust and broken glasses, But you cannot, you cannot help them.
It smells like it’s never going to stop raining with pain, It smells of heartbreak and no tomorrows, It smells of burning candles at the funeral of hope.
Not a word said, You’re crying for the lost, You’re crying because you don’t know what eternity looks like.
All the wrongs of the past time bombard your eyes, What has life become? Is it too late to change it?
You bang your skinned knuckles At the door of the future And vow to go on a scavenger hunt All over the world, To find prayers, good deeds, And promises that stories like this will never repeat.
Note: Today is 9/11 and I remember it. I remember the faces, the terror, and everything that came with it. I will never forget. But that it is not the only thing that I will never forget. Although I only seen them in movies, like Schindler’s list, or read them in books like “Hiding in the Spotlight”, I will never forget the stories of the Jewish people whose spirts were lost during the Holocaust. The same, I will never forget the faces and stories of Syrian kids, and the ones of their parents, that were war refugees in Jordan. I took some interviews, and these were firsthand, heartbreaking stories. I kneel in front of their pain and wish that we will never repeat the mistakes of the past. I am sure that each of us have our experiences. I am sure that each of us have memories that have shattered our hearts. But I think we should do our best to bring light into this world, the way we can. I think each of us contribute, in small or big ways, to spread love and not hatred, to spread acceptance and kindness.
Photo: “New York Night Skyline”by Petr Kratochvil, Public Domain
Crowded streets, Like narrow hiking trails full of wild and hopeful hearts, As mine.
I walk, Between tall buildings, Their walls are creaking with secrets, Of lives of yesterday and tomorrow.
Narcissist digital screens are showing perfect bodies, I stumble in front of one and smile, The pixels have formed into Aladdin’s lamp, Which promises to fulfill three wishes.
My fingers are tracing your imaginary silhouette, And I make three wishes: I wish that you will pack your bags, Book a flight, and think of the words you never said. I wish that you would come, Wrap your arms around me And silence all the ‘what ifs,’ and the ‘could bes.’ I wish that you would meet me in New York, my love.
I smile and leave, On crowded streets, Like narrow hiking trails full of wild and hopeful hearts, As mine.