Sunday, July 25, 2010

Vesey & North End

When walking along the water at Battery Park, I found this pond with lily pads, ducks, fish, and a small water fall. Or maybe it's a fountain?

At the left rim (when facing the water.) of this pond there was a plaque that read, "The Continuous Life By Mark Strand." What followed the title was a poem by Strand. I was going to re-type it here, but I would rather you read it there while listening to the sounds of that spot. The sounds of the water fall, the cars honking, and the West Side Highway.

But I will say something about the poem.... You know when you just get it? And the reason why you get it is cuz you think it or thought it, but you haven't pieced it together in a sentence yet. And while those thoughts are sitting around munching on coffee cake, you're met by words you can run your fingers over, words that aren't yours, words that have originated from another who thinks the same things. Then, when you read those words, all that can be said is: I know.

That is what felt in words at then.

After then, I scooped up my dog and head to the stone structure just beyond the pond. When I got close enough I asked a man with a broom, What is this place? His response: the Irish Hunger Memorial. I said thanks then proceeded.

Along the entrance-way walls there are various quotes that survived the famine, as well as other quotes that are connected to hunger. The two that stuck with me are:

"I was then but four and a half years old; I have a distinct remembrance of that morning's scene: The remnant of our household furniture flung about the road: The roof of the house falling in and the thatch taking fire; My Mother and Father looking on with four young children." (Michael Davitt 1850)

And: "We all live in each other's shadow." (Mary McAleese, the President of Ireland)

After reading the walls I sat on the ground nearest the stone pathway to listen to the audio recording that was repetitively playing... While hearing sections from memoirs of Holocaust victims, I looked down at my panting dog. I was glad he couldn't understand.

When I was sure I heard each story I hiked up the hill. Dear New York, or Dear Battery Park City: Could you take care of the green area in a more caring manner? It looks haunted by what it could be, or was. I'm sure it was spectacular when the memorial was introduced to the neighborhood in 2002.

Yet, regardless of the memorial's up-keep there are details that surpass the physical state of things. The green, the grass and the flowers were transported from various llocals from Ireland. The landscape walls are built with stones from each Irish county in Ireland. And that the cottage which was brought over from Ireland was donated by the Slack family who emigrated to the US generations ago. (Those flowers seem to be a type of vine. When I touched, it felt spongy. I wouldn't mind sleeping on them.) 

The Irish Hunger Memorial (Which was designed by artist, Brian Tolle and landscape architect, Gail Wittwer-Laird.) is at Vesey St. and North End Ave. in Battery Park City.....Maybe you could go there and think about something that matters. I'm not only saying this to you, I say it to myself all the time.

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