From this Brooklyn rooftop, I can see
just a sliver of green between brick buildings.
Bushwick’s native haven, Maria Hernandez Park,
is awake and singing, behind a fence
taken over by ivy.
Maria Hernandez Park has always reminded
me of a girl named Maria, a coworker
from my previous job. We spent our evenings
waiting tables at Brooklyn Cider House last fall.
Well, her name wasn’t actually Maria,
but that’s what she said she was going by for now.
I watch from the roof as the Bushwick street art tour
passes through the park, as it does every
Saturday around three o’clock. Giddy children,
wet and glowing from the playground’s
rainbow sprinkler, then silence, and men playing kickball
call a timeout. The ladies selling mangonadas
halt their sales to watch them walk by, their cups
of sunshine fiercely collecting sweat in the heat.
Maria once asked me why someone
painting a masterpiece on the walls
of their own borough is called vandalism.
She said that white people start doing it,
they file through her streets, passing by poker tables
and elote stands, apartments dressed in eviction
notices, abounding with children, and call that art.
She stopped staring off the patio into the park
and resumed wiping tables.
I watch now from my roof: women with mullets
and Doc Martens, hoops dangling from each layer
of flesh thin enough for a needle to puncture,
men in overalls or Joy Division tee-shirts,
with tattoos of pinup girls and spider-webbed
elbows, each carry a camera and a map spanning
from Myrtle Wycoff to Jefferson Street Station.
The tour exits the opposite end,
and the park resumes its Saturday celebration,
but the volume is now turned low.
How peculiar the sound
of your own name
when weeks have passed
since it was last spoken.
Renamed by the city:
It’s a miracle I did not forget it.