A New York Sketch

for David

The undone shoes in your pied-à-terre
Face down my luggage on stumped feet:

Dachshunds of Samsonite, mute and laid bare
Beneath hangers. We leave only to eat.

No glance from your model
Night doorman: no wink, frère to frère,

In heat. The lobby is empty
Of dog owners, mail and the other

Tight-roped walkers — toothsome fakers
Like ourselves. What are we? Darling? Wear

The beard on your lips like brocade
On a hispid chair. My hand strokes the mate

To a door’s lock, gone into at length: far
From the promise of your paper jamb and frame.

by Susan Comninos

The poem’s original title was “Upper West Side Roman à Clef: a failed ballad of 86th St., in
summer.”

Susan Comninos is both a freelance journalist and poet. Her journalism’s appeared in The Atlantic Online, The Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, Christian Science Monitor and Jewish Daily Forward, among others. Her poetry’s recently appeared in journals including the Harvard Review Online, Subtropics, TriQuarterly, Malahat Review, The Cortland Review, Southern Humanities Review and The Common. It’s forthcoming in The Good Men Project, J Journal, Spoon River Poetry Review and Subtropics. She recently completed a debut book of poems, called “Out of Nowhere.”

What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “A New York Sketch”?

    “A New York Sketch” has its roots in autobiography. It treats the one-sided love affair between a young woman and a successful, middle-aged man. From the start of the poem, we see their different investments in the relationship. Like many who move to NYC to become — something: painters, journalists, even poets — the poem’s narrator is initially naive, at least in her understanding of her partner, and she fails to decode what he reveals about himself.

    Naive or not, the narrator’s attachment is real. But so is her epiphany, at poem’s end, that whatever success she achieves (in love and work) will be realized — or it won’t — independent of him.

This entry was posted in Comninos, Susan and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.