Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Liberty Street

Liberty Street

Newburgh, New York, 1959

I remember… my landlords, Mr. and Mrs. Kravitz who lived downstairs, who’d been in a concentration camp and yelled at each other all the time, and fat Bertha who woke me up every morning on her way to work at the hotel, and one-legged Biggy who never left his room, and quiet Rose the librarian, with whom I had a quiet affair, the Newburgh-Beacon Ferry that I took just for the ride, the Old City where I walked at night, those lonesome railroad tracks that I followed aimlessly into lost November days, the Yesterday Inn where I drank all night long till I forgot where I was, and sleeping with Jean the dancer and the taut coolness of her skin, and the portrait commissions, and painting Linda, my patron’s unhappily married daughter, and falling in love with her to the sounds of Rachmaninov’s “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini”, and crying over Steinbeck‘s “Cannery Row”, and the first time I heard Scriabin, and my buddy Phil, the Irish carpenter who lived in the room next to mine, and his obnoxious record player, and his drunken telephone calls to his old mother in Ireland, and his crying on my shoulder over his girlfriend Marge, and his crazy Irish friends, and the night we tried to watch dirty movies up in my room but they were upside down and backwards because Kravitz couldn’t work the projector, and that night in the lounge of the Lafayette Hotel when we got the whole place singing, and the time we stole that city bus and drove it through the suburbs, waving at fat men in shorts who were out mowing their lawns, laughing, drinking whiskey, singing wild Irish songs, feeling supremely young, and supremely old.

And I remember reading Faust, and reciting Hamlet to myself out loud in that old Quaker cemetery that overlooked the Hudson River where they had fireworks displays from floating barges on the Fourth of July, and the drunkenness, and the love, and the poetry of those lonely nights, so dark, so wonderful, so long ago.


1 comment:

Maggie M. Thornton said...

This seems so private. I think I'll leave you to your sweet memories.
Beautiful as always.

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