A Day in the City: Words and Wildlife

Sometimes a single day in the city bridges many lives and many ways of living. Yesterday was one of those days, brimming with nature and culture, wildlife and art.

In the morning, a little dog sat under a flame tree in Riverside Park near 108th Street and the Hudson River.

Dog on Fire.

Little dog and tree conflagration.

In the afternoon, I crossed the East River to Brooklyn, where I spotted a giant rodent in a parking lot.

Squirrel eats Williamsburg.

The squirrel that ate Williamsburg.

I headed to Acme Studio, where Words After War, a new organization dedicated to “building a community of thoughtful, engaged and skilled veteran writers,” presented its first public event, an absorbing panel discussion focused on writing about war.

Entering Acme’s extraordinary space through the loading dock, I was greeted by another enormous animal, this one lost in profound contemplation.

ACME

ACME

The panel was moderated by Quil Lawrence, an NPR correspondent who covers issues relating to the approximately two and a half million men and women who have returned from deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan. Yes, you read that right. Although less than one percent of Americans serve in the military, nearly two and a half million have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, many on multiple tours of duty. These young men and women come home to a country that doesn’t really even know where they’ve been, let alone what they’ve been doing. Words After War is working to change that.

The panel featured three very different young writers, two of them veterans:

Matt Gallagher (author of Kaboom, co-editor with Roy Scranton of Fire and Forget)41DAaDaQrAL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_

Brian Castner (The Long Walk: A Story of War and the Life that Follows)
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and Katey Schultz (Flashes of War).
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After the panel, feeling thoughtful, I walked west to the East River.

The setting sun touched the city with a golden splendor.

Bridge to Beauty.

A Bridge to the Setting Sun.

An entire continent lay hidden behind Manhattan’s skyline.

The sky glowed.

My city, my city.

I turned my back on the sunset to find that the light in the northwest was growing colder, although a few buildings now shone as if lit with an inner light.

As I began the walk to the subway, the East River ferry pulled into its dock.

And back in Manhattan after dark, the raccoons of Riverside Park were just beginning their day.

Surveying the kingdom after dark.

Surveying the kingdom.

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5 Comments on “A Day in the City: Words and Wildlife”

  1. Mr. Mantooth Says:

    You make wherever you are THE place to be. Thanks also for throwing light onto Words After War and the writers returning from Afghanistan. More on this important group and their artists, please.

  2. virginiafair Says:

    I was just across the bridge from you Saturday, in Bowling Green and South Street seaport, enjoying the crisp air and the sight of all the buildings both up the along the Hudson and over in downtown Brooklyn. It was a beautiful day, wasn’t it?.

  3. Charlotte Says:

    Want to hear more about Words after War, sounds like an incredible org. Hope that you’ll be able to contribute your work as well.

  4. Georgia Says:

    I photographed that squirrel mural too!

  5. Barbara Says:

    This was a haunting walk with you Melissa – and has left me feeling somewhat sad, but also thoughtful. Lots to consider this evening. Thanks.


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