Posts Tagged ‘Poetry’


Thursday, December 11th, 2008

I live a few blocks from NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. This is a huge complex that is essentially two ivy-league medical schools (Columbia and Cornell) and a cluster of Hospital units. It is considered one of the most comprehensive university hospitals in the world, and is currently the largest private employer in New York City. People like Malcolm X, Richard Nixon and Jim Henson died there. It’s where Sunny von Bülow “vegged” out.

NYPH has a palpable demographic impact on this area of the city. If I walk south from my apartment, I see people in scrubs. And it feels less like I live in the Dominican Republic. I’ve always been a bit ambivalent about this. The NYPH vibe is a bit snotty and “white.” I like the fact that Dominican political candidates come to my hood to campaign for elections that are happening on the island.

Fort Washington Ave, cuts right through NYPH. So there is a stretch of it where you are basically in the Hospital. One of my options for bike routes down town takes me through that stretch and from time to time I see things that are poetically potent.

There was one a few years back that has etched itself in my mind:
There’s a small courtyard/garden at one point. Sitting on a bench I saw a young doctor talking very quietly and carefully to a man in a robe with his head in his one remaining hand. The evident struggle in this man to find a way to keep going after the amputation of his arm was shattering. And the struggle in this young doctor to find a way to cut through the futility of words…. It was just a moment, but I can’t shake it. Of course it might have been nothing. It might have been a life-long amputee with the flu listening to his son explain why he’s quitting medical school. But the image stuck.

Then a couple days ago, while waiting for a light to change:
I watched a hearse negotiate some construction to pull up to a door on the side of one of the buildings, around the corner from the bustling main entrances. I see ambulances around there a lot, and I wondered if this hearse was unusual. If I just haven’t been noticing them. Or again if it was nothing. In any case, the image is sticking…