Remembering Rachel Wetzsteon

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Rachel Wetzsteon was often busy elsewhere, teaching, editing, reading now and then, but she seemed most at home in the parks, coffee shops and (viz. below) streets of Morningside Heights. We met frequently, by chance, within a three-block radius of Broadway and 110th Street, and gabbed about writing and the world, this . . . but not that. Her public joy was abundant. It left me—and other people who'd recognize her and also stop to chat—cheerful, while she went home to private sorrow.


      Sitting on the bench on the island
      set between uptown traffic and downtown traffic,
      atop a grate to the subway below,
      we watch the city in motion.
      Some taxis rush the yellow
      and a battered truck with sheets of glass strapped to its side clatters over a pothole
      while the noble #104 bus hisses to its designated stop.

      An elderly man carrying an umbrella on a sunny day
      throws himself across the street,
      against the light,
      as if his life meant nothing,
      to catch the bus.

      The Broadway gardens bloom with violets, lilies,
      daffodils and a rat turd or two or two hundred.
      But the lilies don't enjoy petting,
      and the daffodils don't grin with shiny little teeth.