I travel to New York City to attend IAM's Encounter conference.
Where should I stay?
Any other time, I might choose a rectangular room, indoor-outdoor carpeted grey, with faux flowers on the desk (these rooms always have a desk, ask you to work while you are away).
But I decide that maybe I can find an Artist's Date in where I stay.
So instead of a hotel, I choose The Inn at 56 Irving Place.
When I walk in after dark and am greeted by a friendly host named Scott, when I smell the fresh flowers and see white orchids cascading in a peaceful bouquet, when I see the dark wood and high ceilings and antique furniture I know this was the right choice.
It is a place I can read poetry (and I do). It is a place where I can sleep deeper than I have in a while (and I do). It is a place that revives me. Leads me to write poetry...
56 Irving Place, Gramercy Park
for Sarah Haliwell and Neruda
I love your poems. I held them in a dark room, gardenia scented,
lit only by a candle bulb peering over an aged bed. The headboard
and the footboard were dark too, and carved. Sheets white and soft.
There were sirens outside, muted by plaster, old oak, a mirrored
wardrobe in the corner, tall and gently imposing. I took a picture
of me in slate blue nightwear that looked almost Japanese, loose
as the garb that strong men wear for taekwondo, but shirred like
a lily at the short sleeves. Before I took your words to bed,
before I dreamed.
In the morning I sit by myself in the breakfast room. Vivaldi's Spring, or something like that, plays while I eat whole-wheat artisan bread, cheese, raspberries, blackberries. I use a whole pat of butter on my toast. Jasmine green tea warms my mouth, opens me with sweet fragrance.
And I feel oddly alone and whole at the same time. The way Sarah's poetry simultaneously retreats and surges...
how I long for a heartland
root-bound and simple
but then again oh
I do so love the deep
Inn at 56 Irving Place photos by L.L. Barkat. Excerpt from Sarah Haliwell's poem "watermark", used with permission.