And A Necessary Film Envelopes All
Walt, he speaks, sprawls, breathes now, unbound, to/through me, as you; his futuristic frame frames shadows and those who cast them, still, here, today, in the next moment and its endless successors.
And he is starring in a ‘film’, that movie housed in Brooklyn’s heady heads whose eyes hear, ears behold songs of himself as those of themselves. ‘You, necessary film, continue to envelope the soul’. Like his contemporary English chronicler of England‘s ‘Everyman‘ and his/her plight, you and I are ‘scrooged’ by a healing holy dazed Spirit, taken away into time’s very veils of past, present and especially future, the veil so powerfully pierced by a quintessential American seer’s prescience.
I smile at my feet as they find themselves upon Old Fulton Street, where the grass leaves off and waters abide, the very spot did cross from shore to shore that once bustling ferry, my head meditating like some Hindu holy man on that thought thought by Walt of ‘well-joined silence’ into which he, you, & I are ‘disintegrated’ becoming filmy ties between him, you and me.
Time, that film, happening at once, no boundaried past, future, those bounds illusory, ‘film‘, exposed by Walt.
From his Brooklynite depth, aloft scaffolding plumb-bobbing carpenters evenly nail bannered words to my theatrical mind’s walls, his words, thick with life……Walt walks in me on the Heights, his words come into me from word-smithing resounding from yellowed broadsheets, embracing ‘ …others who look back on me, because I looked forward to them.’
His Brooklyn’s ‘ample hills’ of industriousness redound daily to his/its soaring Eagle’s wing-ed prose, alphabetic assemblies of a city, its ‘them’ s , their to’s and fro’s.
Was I not here, there, my thoughts elsewhere?
Walt reminds me, peregrinate, afoot, peripatetic Brooklyn bustler— ‘ …missing me one place, search another…’ Into the evening, possibly Moonstruck, sampling airiness of peach blossoms, teasing my/his/our nostrils olfactory awareness, new old factories, perhaps, where their birthing boweries once boughed.
Meandering brings us, he, you and I, to Brooklyn’s Museum, turning a corner unto an ancient ceremony, watched from Walt’s seven-year-old eyes; ‘Lafayette, I am here!’ these eyes seem to connect with those owned by the aristocratic French hero of a new nation whose democratizing hands place my smallish frame beside him, bussing ’my’ red-rouged rough cheek, those same hands laying down its Brooklyn cornerstone.
Operatic tones, voices luring us, him toward Nostrand Avenue, auditing art’s most comprehensive performing medium—we ask, ‘what medium guides our senses, conjoins Walt’s young journalist’s ear and pen with this futured now, and upon his namesake theatrical stage?’ Tears mingle with creased visage whose mouth beams in the way of primal primate joyousness.
My eyes blink in punctuation of travels in time, my ears exclaim his words: ‘There’ll come a time here in Brooklyn..when nothing will be of more interest than authentic reminiscences of the past.’ My writerly yearnings pay him homage precisely one hundred years afore my own Brooklyn nascence..it is 1846, The Brooklyn Daily Eagle lending inky materiality to his enlightened words: ‘national refinements & rose-colorings of life’ buttressing its columns, urging free access to the artist and artisan’s handiwork there on display in the people’s monument to muses as ‘the artist..has been given the command to go forth into all the world and preach the gospel of beauty.’
I am so discipled, and come again to that very street called Fulton, and close by Cranberry Street, neighborly Mr. Rome’s refuge as printer to the refugee scrivener, now poet, and his anonymous tome-to-be; I, we bear witness there to the image-capturing art Mssr. Daguerre did visually preach, that preachment meeting its parchment, depicting Him as frontispiece to Brooklyn’s fresh lexicon of pulsing, fleshly glee, ‘Leaves of Grass’ , Walt’s self-funded nearly anonymous self-portrait of himself in All Oneness, and with it, then for now, now for then. We, with our eyes do feel, with our ears do see, our tongues do taste, refreshed ‘the living fountain, actor, experiencer himself or herself, of every page, every aspiration, every line.’ This, his earnest embrace even from death’s bed lending Wild(e) importance to our consequential embosoming of that soil he so freely cultivates still, now, then, now, again.
Wandering, channeling I/He/we drawn toward moving towers, massed wooden masts now become artists easels, their sail-worthy canvas stretched before painterly chronicling eyes—steel forged where Walt’s grassy leaves did point, and women, clad as men, riveting girdings of war. Mighty citadel, that Navy Yard where young surgeon Squibb made perfect his calmative balm for those we, He nursed an earlier, albeit more brotherly tempest’s broken brothers. I, we speak the silent speech of these pages, these leaves— ‘Yonder a library’s flowery branch bears the speaker’s name…that very refuge of his studious readers of that forward time he looked to, and their budding minds. The seashore, ‘twas his library, Nature his librarian.
I blink eyes, and behold Veronica’s Place, an eponymous school room of his future peers, they to higher schooling, he to adieu at 11 years and the carpenter’s plane of his father.
Then, to Greenpoint and porcelain works whose goods find themselves at auction in another space/time, 1864’s Sanitary Commission at BAM’s Montague Street, in service to ancient internecine strife’s newest incarnation, as if some gray clothed Capulets have usurped Montague’s condonation of youth’s slaughter.
And, as you and I, we traverse temporal tracks, so does he, ferrying betwixt Brooklyn’s and Manhattan’s shores, passing over space as time is passed, Walt astride both with gigantic-hearted legs, one in hearty Brooklyn city—her very name Anglicized from the Dutch, that ancestral kin of his mothering—kindly entreating us with rhetoric’s ancient siren unto ultimate awareness:
‘Closer yet I approach you,
What thought you have of me now, I had as much of you–I laid in my stores in advance,
I consider’d long and seriously of you before you were born.
Who was to know what should come home to me?
Who knows but I am enjoying this?
Who knows, for all the distance, but I am as good as looking at you now, for all you cannot see me?’
Yes, and presaging English Lennon’s coming together over, across and, perhaps, out, this Ferry passenger sings, and not fearing some River Styx, coins at the ready; no, but in plausible defiance of old Dr. Johnson’s warning away from puns— ‘He that would make a pun would pick a pocket’—I, we lovingly embrace that passenger ‘Crossing Brooklyn Ferry’ as defiant jubilant American fairie, one who did call America to her earthy humane senses in the face of the antebellum subjugation of ‘otherness’ itself. He, this man of wit and passionate pride of place–especially Brooklyn, his America in miniature, and in promise–remains that great spirit, belonging neither to Heaven nor Hades, best summoned by that mythic imprimatur.
My mind, as did his, poetizing, now exhibition hall of pictures, wanted and not wanted, on display, hanging there, landscapes and portraits dark and of light.
Our ears prick up at the sound of a favorite band tune, boldly brassing, perhaps at diligent practice, heard through open windows wafting, musically preaching attempted beauty’s rebirthing of earful mellifluous harmonies; then, hawking merchants follow on invisibly, push carting helter-skeltering sounds offering spoken, shouted, sung adornments upon Tesla’s radiating waves wirelessly beaming, somehow.
‘Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged…I stop some where waiting for you’ enters my, your ear, its invitation beckoning afresh, the back of our necks hairily tingling for a moment, sensing being stared at by loudly whispering eyes. Turning, turning again, I/we stand before Henry Street’s nearby Whitman Close; the carpentry, might it be inspired by his own at the Myrtle Street home, with the print shop of his typesetter’s hand and mind and bookstore at street level?
Our feet-for-wings now weary of so rapid jaunty flight come to rest at Adams Street, nature-bound by Red Cross Place & Tillary Street; a modern singer strums, singing: ‘..where is the good in good-bye?’
Passing Green-Wood cemetery, with its national historic DNA linked into eternity with some 20 millions of us, where Walt’s bones should rest, its grassy leaves but his figurative ‘beautiful uncut hair’ hardly graven, more at wilding.
I snap back to nowness, not a newness, but to now for then…has my modern ‘grass’ caused me to so fly, or that Dickensian Spirit, wily nily? Perhaps only as far as one body disintegrating into that..film, that necessary film which envelopes All.
You, and you and still you— ‘necessary film continue to envelope the Soul…my volume’s a candidate for the future.’
Postscript: And, thus, did I and you of Brooklyn birth or habitation look back upon Him as he looked forward. To our All Soul. Peace, Walt, in you, from you, to All, and especially those born in and borne by His Brooklyn, great-grandfather of now’s fathering, mothering Brooklyn, including yours truly who did breach her collective womb, the self-same day of December 16, 1946 into the necessary film..along with that necessary film-maker, one Steven Spielberg…this, then, my necessary spiel on this most splendid of burghs.