Mother and I
In the beginning,
the iron fence protected the young tree
from badgers and other wild animals.
With arrows pointing upward, it hugged the tree,
just barely touching the soft bark.
As the tree grew- wide,
the iron fence tightened its grip,
and when the arrow blades pierced through the bark,
sap dripped from the tree’s trunk.
Until the iron fence started to rust.
With time, it fell apart, and then,
relieved, the tree could breathe again.
Some rusty bits of the old fence remain,
embedded in the tree.
Sometimes, the memory of arrow stings
can make the tree bleed sap, again.
For the First Woman to Take a Soldier’s Part
Were our streets ever so dark?
Fall equinox day
my phone says. Suddenly cold,
ash gray sky, 90% chance rain.
In Bennett Park
the bicentennial elm tree
sheds leaf clusters and bark,
the windswept flagstone path
traces the pentagon
of Fort Washington.
Marked on a granite bolder,
Manhattan’s highest point-
265 feet above sea level.
The black & blue war cannon
stands only 2 minutes
from my door step
but I know nothing
about war, the military,
being a soldier.
Afraid of losing her only child,
my mother dressed me as a girl.
She never let me have a haircut.
When the draft notices were sent,
none had my name on it.
My boyfriends disappeared one by one.
In 1775, at age 24,
Margaret Corbin went to war.
One year later, dressed as a man,
she joined her husband John in battle
at Fort Washington, and helped him load
the double tail-six pound field cannon.
When John was killed,
Margaret took over,
firing against the Brits.
Her aim was steady,
she was a sure shot.
But when the bullets hit,
she lost her left arm,
her jaw, and her left breast.
The battle was also lost.
Tonight, the park is quiet.
A woman wearing a nightgown
walks a large dog over the granite boulder.
The dog sniffs the Revolutionary cannon.
Under the lamppost, the woman
turns out to be a man,
my neighbor Sam in building B,
who lost his daughter Anna in Kabul -
a 25-year-old Marine,
same age as Margaret Corbin
250 years ago. Killed by a bomb
aimed at 100 civilian Afghans on the run.
Sam never saw his daughter’s
burnt face, the severed legs,
the bloody torso.
When he received the urn
he placed it on the mantel.
He spoke to no one ever since.
At midnight, there is a clearing
in the sky. A giant Harvest Moon
glows high above the park.
It stops Sam and his dog
dead in their tracks─
the German Shepherd’s instinct is to howl.
Bogdan Borgovan is an architect living in Northern Manhattan.
He was born in Bucharest, Romania. He defected to the US in the early 80’s.
He graduated from Cooper Union’s School of Architecture in 1988.
He writes poetry and short prose pieces.