• Rachel Aydt
  • Word City Studio: Rainy Day at Patchin Place
Word City Studio: Rainy Day at Patchin Place
Written by
Rachel Aydt
February 2012
Written by
Rachel Aydt
February 2012

Cross Sixth Avenue (Avenue of the Americas) at 10th Street, headed west, and you'll stumble straight into the Jefferson Market library, a castle of a place that used to be a women's prison. Around the corner is a little street, with another little street...

Meet Patchin Place, a cul-de-sac houses, including one that was once the longtime home of e.e. cummings. I thought of this cluster of houses when I heard my husband reading "Molly and Milly and Maggie and May/ went down to the sea to play one day" to my son before bed. I went on to consider how much he wrote about the rain (of course famously in Hannah and Her Sisters, "Nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands). At the time that Kathleen Sweeney and I embarked on this creative outing/ adventure, there had been three days of rain. So to inhabit the stalwart spirit of the rain, it seemed natural to head off to Patchin Place for a pilgrimage. When I first began seriously writing my own poetry at about 17, I was wildly obsessed with e.e. cummings. Can you tell by this book jacket with its masking tape scars and beloved dogears?

At times the rhythm of his words came to feel like a friendly heartbeat, creating some kind of organized meaning from adolescent sadness:

"anyone lived in a pretty how town
(with up so floating many bells down)
spring summer autumn winter
he sang his didn't he danced his did

Women and men(both little and small)
cared for anyone not at all
they sowed their isn't they reaped their same
sun moon stars rain ..."

If you close your eyes right now and feel the rhythm of your words, what do they say?

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  • Laura Brennan

    I love how free - and freeing - e.e. cummings is.  "when faces called flowers float out of the ground..."  I may be misquoting, it's from memory, but that's the point - it's the exuberance of his stuff that sticks with you.