When we hop the fence to the hospital on Roosevelt Island
I wonder if this is poetry, because poetry
does not believe in fences or doors or abandonment. Inside
trees grow through the ground, Chrysler building visible
through the not-roof and the empty window spaces that
open up like trachea. People came here to die of smallpox or to survive,
scarred and forever immune, taking with them the memory of
the smell of festering sores like a rotting bird.
So perhaps it is the hospital itself that is the poem
since it is transformative, since now it is a place
to stand on fallen-down metal doors, rubble, and watch the sky
and the East River move. Two weeks later
I hallucinate when I’m walking from the subway.
Messenger bag over one shoulder,
camera heavy in the other hand. Do ghosts mind
being recorded by the living? Or is their anger sparked by
how simple it is for an entire history to be forgotten?
The answer comes to me like bread rising:
They are angry at the fence put around them
breached and climbed in stilettos and sneakers,
the fence that pretends to contain what cannot be held in.
Monica Wendel will receive her MFA in Creative Writing from NYU in May 2010. One of twelve semi-finalists in the 2009 Miss G Train pageant, she enjoys living in Brooklyn, teaching kids at St. Mary’s Health Care System for Children, and entering pointless competitions. In a past life she wrote product descriptions for coffee makers. Exciting developments to follow at www.twitter.com/monicaewendel.