I left behind a mother, father,
baby brother, town house, doorbell, family
sized gallons of two-percent milk, for
my grandmother’s apartment near
the United Nations, her apartment
building with elevator, incinerator
chute, intercom with buzzer,
deliveries from Gristede’s. There I had
a godfather who took me out to lunch,
great-aunts who took me to tea,
a great-uncle who took me to the Museum
of the City of New York, and a grand
father who took me on the IRT.
I was the only child in all Manhattan.
My grandmother loved the Museum
of Modern Art, Matisse’s revelers,
the red parlor with goldfish. She loved
the rough-cut oil of Starry Night and Monet’s
lily ponds, took me after to a hotel
dining room just like Hello, Dolly!
where the violinist asked for my song,
and I didn’t have one, and how, she said,
could an eight-year-old lady not know
a serenade? She took me to Broadway
and home on the cross-town bus.
The U.N. tulips reminded me of Holland,
my eight-year-old idea of Holland, like
in Mary Poppins when “Canada”
was grasshoppers and roses in white snow,
a beautiful word. I watched my grandmother
summon friends to come see me from the pages
of her red kid address book: Dorothy
and Kay, Mae, Phyllis, Helena and Eddie,
Lucille, Louise. Venetian blinds, taxi
cabs, milk by the quart, lambchops and water
cress, brass candle snuffers. Permit me
to sing this kaddish for New York,
New York, my city of adults.