from Notes on the Shape of Absence

We trace the dust lines left behind from the appliances, fumble for the brick foundations between the steel beams, peer at serrated stairlines where the wall paints stopped. Reincarnated. Tenement apartments become dance spaces without barres or mirrors, in the dank basement of a bank on Market Street, in anonymous green-carpeted rooms on Mott Street.


Copyright © 2017 by Celina Su. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 5, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem
“‘Notes on the Shape of Absence’ excavates layers of recent history in New York as an attempt to reckon with what the city has become, and to confront profound loss. As it contemplates cycles of urban change, the poem fuses the personal with the social and the political; it is simultaneously a meditation on gentrification, migration, the death of the speaker’s mother, and the act of grieving itself.”
—Celina Su