Selected Works

Craft essays, short works
Craft essay in October 2015 Brevity
Memoir
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Musing

Dust to Dust

March 28, 2013

Tags: Newark, dust to dust, the pull of our origination places

One of the most anticipated events for me when taking the train to New York City is the moment the train enters the Newark’s Penn Station. For the brief few minutes we pause at the station to let passengers out and in, I take in the old yellow subway tiles, the gorgeous round windows, the sparse Art Deco touches etched around the framing of the swinging doors leading to the station. Without even leaving the train, I can see vividly the station itself, with its old wooden chairs and bustling newsstand where I used to wait with my father to take a trip to the “city.”

But what really catches my eye are the exposed pipes hovering above the platform, the grim, gray lattice of ductwork encased in dust like the dust in my father’s dry cleaning store on Washington Street in Newark. This is the dust made of generations of dust, gray–black clumps hanging from the rafters, clinging to pipes, in between floorboards, dirt with pedigree and weight and importance. This is dust you don’t even try to clean.

In the shadow of the great city, the landscape is coated in black and gray – dust clinging to bridges, tiles, in tunnels, on the sills of empty brick empty factories, dark behind their storied rows of broken windows, dust so singular it has a shape and presence of its own, circular, granular, layers of dust upon dust, dust that says this is your past, your family. Your blood.

The dust of your dust and all the others who have come before you.