Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Sword in a Box

by Tom Hatch

We started out on an early 6:07 train to Manhattan
He fell asleep before the Connecticut suits
Got on at Darien it was earlier than his
Usual time of morning the sun low enough
Streams in across his young teen face burning
Into his thoughts of a young man
He will eventually be revealing his uncertainty that
He does not know it all as he seems to now
At Grand Central he became that boy again entering
Into familiar but not often enough familiar to awaken
Excitement that same sun bright steep angles
Down through the long hazy air
Hitting the marble floor of the terminal
Squinting hazy Asian eyes thousands of humans
One thought getting to work I had one meeting
This morning then free all day with Nick
I needed a shoe shine the best in New York
The shine at Grand Central the Honduran young men
Flapping their rags and beat their shining cloths
Into loud slaps and snaps echoing down the long hall
To Lexington Avenue where he waited for me
On the street we started walking but he
Wanted to take the subway as we did a few years ago
Taking him to school on East 84th St. he was my little prince
He did not beg to stand in the front car anymore
As he looked out into the dark tunnel lit by his smile
Holding him up on my knee to see out the window
Standing today lanky head down as the train
Moved swaying him gangly looking about
Cautious and curious at the funny ads
Dr. Zizmor will fix your skin, Fitzgerald and Fitzgerald
The fighting Irish lawyers have won millions in judgments
Call them now they will find some one you can sue
And the hammer toe repellent before and after pictures
Our destination is to walk the length of Mulberry Street
SoHo, Little Italy crossing Canal into Chinatown
Out of the subway onto Bleeker and Lafayette
Crossed Houston the Puck Building where Superior Ink
Was manufactured for almost a hundred years
Ended back almost thirty years ago the bums slept there for the
24 hour warmth the inks pervasiveness covered them as well
In black making their eyes white, hollow each blink was a motion
Picture kind of sadness as a Lewis Hines still pictures or Walker Evans
Pointing out the building across Jersey Alley I had a
Loft there at that time in my life art was my mistress
Young and beautiful she was my warmth only to leave me
Cold, broke and broken after many years we walked
Down Mulberry where John Gotti and his men strolled in front of me
As I took the dog out in the early evening between Prince and Spring
D&G bakery was gone the oldest stone oven in the city
Rocky’s red sauce on this warm noon we passed along
Umberto’s, Ferraro’s, Vincent’s Clam House moved
Onto a side street Nick’s hunger was playing a slow pace
Ended up sitting out on the sidewalk at Il Cortile
The mixture of tourists and old Italian neighbors was the stage
Watching as our food came to us under the shade of an
Umbrella of goodness sort of took us back to Rome
For a minute
From a few years ago but not quite the same
We intersected Canal into Chinatown the open
Shops of fish and flattened creatures pressed upon
The windows dripping with grease, in water tanks
Turtles and large fish he found some ancient coins (he thought)
In a store as we finally merged with the smells
We bought a Samurai sword he danced holding it
Like the bamboo snake we purchased as well
Leaving the store with the sword inside a box
The street the heat and pungent odor the thought of
A sword in a box we are meeting his mother later
Uptown with his grandfather and friend for her birthday
His happiness winding the back lanes of Chinatown
With the sword in the box
Coming upon Doyer Street I showed him were his mother
Lived when I first met her he took a picture of an aged
Chinese man crouching in that front doorway
Turning around across the one way narrow street
A US Post Office also written in Chinese
The explanation of a sword in a box
At her birthday dinner disappeared $6.50 and some added tape
Now being mailed home to be explained another day
Nick and I saw eye to eye about the weapon in the box
Entered the Chinatown subway station on Canal Street
Leaving the busy hectic sidewalk above
Down to the uptown train a Chinese girl his age
Sitting diagonally in a pink sundress blowing pink
Bubble gum across from him watching her
Pink sundress light skin blowing her pink bubbles
This a suspended moment in the Chinatown subway train.

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