The East Village

Tony Towle

Municipal Cartography

I live in nameless taupe
I see to my horror from the standard map
attached to the back seat of my taxi,
coming back home from the airport:
below the verdant green
labeled Murray Hill,
above the olive of Gramercy Park
and east of the solid ochre of Chelsea --
as if 23rd to 34th, Fifth Ave. to the River
were only an agglomeration of arteries
on their way to actual  neighborhoods,
or to the FDR to just get out of town --
and that nobody actually lived here;
but it is even worse than I thought,
as I emerge from the Midtown Tunnel
I see the colors more clearly:
I live in a gray area, it seems,
not taupe, in fact, the identical hue
that has engulfed Brooklyn and Queens,
as if Long Island
had established a game-board bridgehead
in this part of Manhattan, the invaders 
perhaps bivouacked at this very moment
in Vincent Albano Park, on 29th and Second,
where some of Clinton and Cornwallis's redcoats
stopped to rest after the Battle of Long Island
in the attempt to cut Washington off in September 1776
from the remainder of the Revolution. 
To do this they disembarked at Kip's Bay,
supported by an unanswerable naval cannonade
that scattered our rebel milita,
down there, down the street and a couple of blocks up.
And that's where I live: Kip's Bay. I'll quietly ink it in
at the next light.


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