Your name invoked images, awe, presumptions
of ghetto, gangster, glamour, glitz.
Yet many will be surprised to know
I found in you much goodness and grace
just as ingrained
as the grit and grime.
I arrived in your muggy embrace on a stifling night in May,
and as I gradually acquainted myself with your form,
you grieved me.
Now, two years later,
I am grieved once more.
But the grief is different this time, my unexpected love.
“New York grows on you like a fungus”
I do believe she’s right.
Can a fungus grow in the heart?
Your roots burrow deep in mine.
You have taught me much about life —
I walk past faces hard as flint
inside them live eyes that have long forgotten how forgiveness feels
I walk over petrified gum ground into the pavement
I walk around the smelly legless homeless man
(do I ignore him this time, or do I smile?)
It’s physical and spiritual, this grit and grime,
But it makes grace more glorious.
Beauty lives in you too, City of Contrasts,
Your skyline’s famous fingerprint
Your proud bridges
Your art — you collect and inspire —
Your playground sprinklers tickling children
Your sprawling parks
Your wide harbor with the proud green Lady
Your Christmas lights
African, American, Asian,
Hasid, Hipster, Hispanic (too many more to count)
Is there a place, religion or philosophy not represented here?
We all live side by side
on top of each other.
I’m pleasantly surprised by the peace
as I sit in the evening cool
on my Brooklyn stoop steps.
I am Lot’s wife,
One last look at this Sodom
that has been my home.
But you are not completely Sodom
because in you I have found many
who are righteous
who call on Him who washes us clean
like the summer rains your streets.
I know some of them
and I love them fiercely.
They are your roots burrowing in my heart.
They are what made you my home.