Your New York

by Frances Green

It’s not a place I know – deterred
by imaginings: extravagant right-angles,
outsize sticklebrick
landscapes,
fretworks of fire-escapes departing
a maddening iron-clad maze,
lives compressed at the bottom of
deep, dark siren-tidal streets…
I could go on but it is possible
I have things out of proportion.

So, is it also possible that such gigantic
geometric warp and weft can be
unpicked, made homespun?
Because you don’t talk about size at all.
Your New York is a place of friends and
familiar navigation: about turning right
onto a sunny sidewalk fresh
from a red-walled drawing-room
toward tonight’s restaurant; looking upward
to golden gardens on evening rooftops,
planning another easy tomorrow.

And I suppose this is how any city
seeps into the blood, gradually
dissolving its largest claims
into close experiences, building itself
into memories. So if I go, may I
borrow one as my own beginnings?
Forgive me if I take your walk from
East 77th to the Metropolitan Museum of Art;
understand if I look to glimpse
a small blue china hippopotamus, favourite
last of its ancient kind that you
liberated from their gift-shop.
He will be waiting quite certainly –
at one of those right-angles
expecting to be followed –
for another knowing to begin.