Monday, May 31, 2010

Fort Greene Rock

There's a boulder in Fort Greene park - perhaps a glacial artificat -resting where the land levels at the bottom of the hill, in the corner of the park that points to the Williamsburg Savings Bank. On Saturday its smoothed surface was warm and in the clear light it was possible to see the grain of the crystals that comprise its granite. The stone's bulk and heft had been polished to the smoothness of flesh in many spots so that it became tempting to nestle into it. My kids played for hours on the rock, we never even got to the playground on the other side of hill that rises in dignity in the center of the park, a throb of green in a glacier of row houses and apartment complexes bound to the West by the East River.

I was going to take a picture of the three kids perched on top of the rock but as I turned my camera on it registered an error and the lens fell into a paralysis and wouldn't retract. As if the rock had resented being used as a pedestal, comfortable that it is in itself an apex in a ground of apices, a footnote to the column that rises towards the sky at the top of the hill, finishing in a large, graceful verdis gris urn most likely informed by the oracle at Delphi. Interred inside, the remains of 200 Revolutionary war soldiers, men who died, most likely of starvation, aboard British prison ships. Their lives and their deaths still touch us, as do all the lives and deaths of those who've been born into times of war, drawn into unrelenting currents to find themselves sacrificing all. It is Memorial Day today, and also Immemorial Day, because so many of those lost lives are unknowns. How can you remember what you never knew? They must be honored obliquely, being beyond image. Ultimately, the ship of the heart sails blindly.

2 comments:

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Old First said...

I love that rock. And that park. It often feels a bit spiritual. Spooky. As it should.