chagall backdrop

On 10th between A and B
at the northern edge of the park
the buildings across
face southerly light

The expanse of Tompkins Square
cuts a vista there
unique for this part
of the city

In the movie
Love With The Proper Stranger
a sweet complicated love
between Steve McQueen
and Natalie Wood grows
each the stranger

The movie is filmed in ’63
before flower power
and the death
of the stars

a month after Camelot and Texas
but prior to Mekong
as a household word
and 10 years at least
before VCR

Natalie plays Angie
who works at Macy’s
with an apartment
there on 10th

In one scene
Rocky (Steve)
comes over
for dinner

The camera pans westward
from Avenue B
catches the southerly light just right
could be Paris for all we know

Captures that perfect day there
on the Lower East Side
before anyone knew
of Alphabet City
or of planes flying in
too low

People old then
are gone
even the young then
are gone
everyone alive then though
in award-winning
black and white

Angie and Rocky sup
Natalie looks fabulous in basic black
from the street outside
joyful screams come ringing in
children skating and punch-ball
in Tompkins Square Park
where everyday I would play
having grown up on 11th and A
maybe that’s me? – I would wonder

My Dad looks up
in bold relief
against the weave of patterned stone
that rims the park

He tightens the skate
and hands me the key
sits on the bench
with his paper

I soar over streets
in a rumble like surf
washes the sand away

Do a hard stop and turn
to face where I started
there’s Rocky walking away

Walks past my Dad
on the evergreen bench
and I pray it will stay this way

But it’s a world without Pause
or Rewind
and so the story flows
without any chance
of a second glance
only the promise
of a future showing

© Chagall, 2013