Tag Archives: Marilyn Robertson

How They Treat Brooklyn Umbrellas

by Marilyn Robertson

They lie in gutters in ragged cloaks as if fallen
from the night sky, their spokes like boney fingers
bent by wheels rolling wet and in a hurry.
It was only a summer storm but, at the first
gust, these turned inside out, their users
having started out the evening in high spirits
with trust in their low-end purchases. Perhaps
one threw his down in disgust, hair and clothing
soaked, or another cast it over her shoulder
with an amused shrug. A large number never
make it to the trash.

In Northeast LA, we never throw our umbrellas
in the street—but then, we rarely need them,
except for shade. Our streets favor catsup-stained
paper clams, corn husk wrappers, plastic bags
that tumble, cigarettes released from SUVs
or couches bumped onto the freeway
off the backs of trucks.

But here in Brooklyn, people walk, their umbrellas
strewn along Lorimer Street as we pick our way
around water mirrors in sunlit cracks towards
Broadway and 92 Walton. At Metropolitan Street,
we duck into a True Value Hardware. There, up
in the rafters ,a cluster of them hangs, like bats
in flight, their damaged fragility tossed but rescued,
transformed into art, the Museum many stops away—
one person’s trash another’s inspiration.

You don’t have to leave the country
to find yourself far from home.