An Ode to Bensonhurst
This is my hometown. It shelters me and encourages me to see beyond the surfacing peripheries. I hear her many sweet dialects and tongues, from the babbling toddlers of Seth Low to the bustling shouts of 86th Street’s bazaar. Where Latin pop muffles alongside Italian opera and layers of diversified sounds keep on. This town formed the ribbon-like gait in which I walk; dodging furniture movers and aggressive pigeons. But it’s also taught me to stop still and watch the sun glitter over our share of the Atlantic or marvel the great Verrazano. Bensonhurst gave us disco fever and conferred Oscar Benton’s blues. It’s where Mr. Kotter shaped young minds and Jackie Gleason drove his bus. This hamlet of winding streets allows me to get lost on multiple occasions, (letting me in on new secrets along the way).
So here’s to Bensonhurst’s northern cardinals that wake me at 5am when spring begins to turn. And to the monk parakeets that hide in plain sight. To AINAC, who tags President Lincoln’s face on unassuming construction boards, for Art Is Not A Crime. Here’s to 18th Avenue’s bakeries, where amblers swim in wafted scents of cannoli. And to the hidden parks that house crowned flora and falcons. To the unforgiving winter winds of Caesar’s Bay and the morning joggers that persist despite them. To the sizable snowflakes that blanket our roofs while we sleep. To the Chinese fiddles and outdoor Tai Chi sessions, calming our restless mornings. Here’s to knowing you won’t always be my physical home, whether I takes residence elsewhere or gentrification tears your tough fabric apart. But home isn’t necessarily the place you’re in. Rather, it’s the feeling of being, of safekeeping something, someone close. So dearly close.