In New York, you can’t get to the water
But the water can get to you,
I say to someone at the opening of an art exhibition
Of paintings by Vilhelm Hammershøi
Who painted with light and shades of white,
Leaving the water to the imagination
And then was forgotten for a lifetime.
I stroll with my wife through Murray Hill,
Sharing a plate of Indian food among the cab drivers.
At Gramercy Park, a man in a blue suit gives us
An impromptu tour of Governor Tilden’s mansion,
The dark wood, tall ceilings, the old bricks visible
Inside the mahogany pocket doors and I point
To a framed drawing among hundreds of portraits,
Saying, “Isn’t that Itzhak Perlman?”
“Could be,” he shrugs, turning to assist a young
Intoxicated Russian lady in the doorway.
At home, I look at old photographs, flickers of light
In pieces of glass from the shattered window of childhood.
It’s October, these mornings are clear, and with my eyes closed
I can hear my mother’s radio in her kitchen –
All the stories about the Middle East,
The burning of books and violins
That they somehow still insist on calling The News.