Writing to the Windows

This page compiles writings by NYU students inspired by the Kimmel Windows.

 

and the fruit grew by Logan M Stacer

i caught an apple in my hands
not-far from a family tree with
a last name wax-paper-
traced &; translated from a
mother tongue spoken only
by my stomach’s rumblings
post-indulging my Grandmother’s
famous German dumplings.
i’m Black, too, by the way
of canals or oceans or
veins or fate or whatever
brought my parents together
on a sinful night somewhere
in the Lone Star State.
//
in the Lone Star State
i was but a seedling
being secretly synthesized
by the Sun &; the Wind
&; the blood passed down by
my Black grandmother’s
Black grandmother. perhaps
soil writes her hands love letters
&; addresses them to me, perhaps
the soil still recalls the tender
attention paid, the sifting &;
separating &; celebrating the
softest chemical concoction
she learned to call cotton.

//
she learned to call cotton

by the feeling my grandfather
calls carpentry. my grandfather,
who married my grandmother &;
her dumplings at the ripe age
of when-you-know-you-know,
who, in my quarter life i have
noticed a quota of characteristics
i have come to resemble, speaks
wood &; toolbox fluently. i told him
i am neither architect nor agriculturist,
but a wordsmith, adept at crafting a
sentence to fill the smallest of seeds with
the confidence to crack through concrete
//
the confidence to crack through concrete
brought me to this city. surely the soil has
had my back. the sky, my breath. the wind,
carried my wishes &; first three dimensions
to the Sunflower State. a late bloomer, with life
lessons to be perfected but i trusted the timing
of the blossom. i have been called upon by
ancestors; Black, Anglo Saxon, &; Seminole
to breath Love back into this jungle’s jugular.
Love, a singular syllable capable of captivating
crowds, en masse, to re-track their steps back
to their best selves. it helps to talk to that which
you plant. whether new life or new idea,
speak with love &; watch them grow

//

speak with love &; watch them grow
how we got here? no one knows.

we killed the plants, we killed the land,
destruction wasn’t how life began.
what can we learn from a tree grown full?
nourishment comes from a greater whole.
you need strong roots to grow stronger branches,
so why expect help from those who live in mansions?
i speak not of community but ecosystem
because how i see it, Love is missin’.
don’t drain the swamp, that wouldn’t be fair
remove the predators that aren’t supposed to be there!
a few bad apples can’t be to blame
if all of the apples are growing the same.

//
if all of the apples are growing the same,
ask, what is at their core? the bad seeds
spoken into existence between touches
without permission &; dismissing witness opinion?
we have children trapped in detention but
profit is what we mention? i have listened
&; learned from women &; men who mean
more than textbooks could ever teach &;
it is with these hands i have hugged fruits &;
friends the way my grandfathers have hugged me
&; my grandmothers have loved me & i know
help is but a fingertip’s distance away. ask,
how ancestors asked the trees for life. i tried &
i caught an apple in my hands.

 

Response by E. Bullard

The plants in the windows of Kimmel alongside the poems from ​Ghost Fishing​ are native to Puerto Rico. They are physically distanced and uprooted, giving us a reminder of the effects of Hurricane Maria, and the effects of the US’s lack of action in an extreme time of need. As the plants grow during the semester, a group of students will be tending to them, making sure that they are healthy and flourishing. As the student caretakers tend to the plants they will also, in a way, tend to the poems themselves.

The presence of the plants in the windows next to the poems made me think about what tending to a garden or even to a single plant can mean, especially after a period of struggle, or as a way to combat adversity. In the same way, it helped me think about what it means to tend to a poem. Gardening is a constant return to the same small things or group of things. It’s a series of rote actions that must be performed in order for something to grow. Similar to the way in which a mantra washes over the speaker, it’s meditative, nearly ritualistic. I think you can easily take the same approach to reading a poem. Instead of reading it once, you can read it each day, or multiple times. Reading can be an act of tending. The presence of the plants in the window is a reminder of this.

A poem, like a mantra, like a periodic ritual, can change you slowly, in ways that are as slow as the hour-to-hour development of a plant. If you let it work on you, let its words seep into your bones, it becomes part of your psychology, your way of thinking. I think this is true also of cliches and repetitive bits of language we hear all the time as well, and I remember to be wary of letting that seep into me too much. To me, poetry is the antidote. In this way, the ​Ghost Fishing exhibition could be held in no better exhibition location. The exhibition has to be in Kimmel Windows, on the street — where passersby can absorb the words on their day-to-day routine walks, creating a perceptible or imperceptible ritual, seeing certain phrases out of the corner of their eye, phrases like LeConté Dill’s in “We Who Weave”: “…who put the root on whom first?”