We saw you that day, a world away from today, in a gentler time,
when your towers of trade still stood, we saw you in your brown stones
and running shoes, always running, always pacing, always off somewhere;
somewhere newer, someplace shinier, somewhere brighter, someplace bigger
and we felt so small, so new to it all, looking on;ignorant, innocent, breathless,
you with your yelling arms hailing yellow cabs, you with your giant cars
tearing along your streets, always up the avenues and over the hundreds;
would I ever remember, could I ever forget, would we ever be able to sleep
in our tower above the park, above your streets that towered beneath us,
over us, your buildings that glistened in the daylight, sparkled in the starlight,
sparkled all night, soaring higher and higher, neck ache; always looking up
to see where they ended and the heavens began, streets like soldiers marching
downtown to funky town, Chinatown, Italian town, Liberty’s crown.
We saw you like that, that day, your brown stones and yellow cabs,
the Vanguard and the Village, where he sang and I sobbed, sobbed as he sang
for me, sang for a father. We saw you, uptown for lunches from Zabar’s,
picnics in parks before midtown for belters that blinded us on Broadway.
We saw you and your hidden treasures and your childhood pleasures;
the library, at the back, behind the glass; Winnie the Pooh and Tigger too.
We saw you, suddenly, that day, with one turn, as we fell upon your bridge,
your bridge to Brooklyn, sketched by Roebling and favoured by Whitman,
and there, above the Hudson, a turn away from the hustle and bustle,
in the years before fear reigned, before terror struck and we broke up,
everything opened up and a stillness reigned triumphantly in the air,
until, just a moment later, a siren shot through the city to remind us
that while we’d found a quiet edge, it was just an edge of a great big
shiny metropolis. We saw you that day, together, as one, one summer
when everything seemed eternal. We saw you like that, that day
and never dared to think what might happen if it all fell down.
All words and Photographs by Damien B. Donnelly