by Sima Rabinowitz
I don’t really understand Second Avenue. I mean the poem, not the street. Oh, I don’t understand the street either, except, of course, it’s not a street, it’s an avenue. And it’s not just the north-south thing. You tried to explain it in those notes, but they were as dense and unreliable as the reflection of rush hour traffic against a gritty sky. What has Second Avenue got to say for itself, apart from that deli which died my first year in the city, and I never did get to try the kasha varnishkes. You can’t become an avenue the way you become the street. But…enough of that, we both have to get back to work, that little piece of hell on earth. Now that I’m leaving my own private eastsidedness, I imagine you never did walk back west! I keep thinking I’ll fall apart the closer I get to the greener boroughs. But New York is not a painting, and they have lunch north of Harlem, too.
Sima Rabinowitz is the author of The Jewish Fake Book (2004) and Murmuration (2006). Her essay, “Bookstore Bound” has just been published in an anthology from the University of Wisconsin Press and another is forthcoming in fall 2009 in Water-Stone Review. She is a 2009 recipient of a BRIO Award (Bronx Recognizes Its Own).