The wonderful thing about having a blog devoted to biblical studies is that you can legitimately include almost any topic under the sun, since the Bible itself includes just about every sort of topic imaginable. So if this month’s poem from Mom doesn’t sound sufficiently biblical or spiritual, go read something like a Gospel account of Jesus interacting with children or the story of Hannah and Samuel or even the Song of Songs, then read Mom’s poem again. I think you’ll see it fits in very well indeed.
This poem was written in honor of our firstborn daughter, who just turned seven. When she was still very new, we took her on an overnight bus ride from our home in Queens, New York, to Toronto, Ontario, to introduce her to my family for the first time.
I clearly remember little Priya on that overnight ride, eyes wide open, taking in all the sights—the curbside Manhattan bus stop, the fellow passengers, the bright lights outside the bus window, and, when whenever we pointed her in the wrong direction, the long-forgotten movie flashing on the bus monitors.
Photo Credit: Stewart via Compfight cc
I think she squeaked only about once on that whole roughly-10-hour ride. She spent much of her time sleeping, and the rest of it looking wide-eyed at the wide world. We’d had fearful visions of keeping fellow passengers awake all night with a crying baby. But the trip turned out to be, as I recall, a magical experience for all of us.
We arrived in Canada’s largest city, at downtown Union Station, early in the morning. After strolling around mostly underground a while, past closed shops, we found the subway line heading to the north edge of Toronto.
After years of subway riding in NYC, it was fun to ride a subway in Toronto, for perhaps only the second time in my life. Perhaps my Canadian memory is just biased, but I’m recalling that the TO subway was quieter and cleaner than those in NYC.
Photo credit: Nathan Ng (See his Downsview Station photo collection.)
Soon we reached Downsview Station, the end of the line. There we worked our way above ground and found the passenger pickup waiting area.
Bright-eyed little Priya was a charm the whole way, and as we waited at Downsview for my parents to arrive to drive us to home in Parry Sound, all her innocent baby charm was poised to capture their hearts, too.
I’ll let Mom continue from here. But first, perhaps this is a good time to remind you that “travelled,” “traveller” and “centre” are perfectly proper spelling for a Canadian poet!
Ken and I met Priya Simone, our fourth grandchild, on January 22, 2009. She was six weeks old when she and her parents visited us, and I wrote this poem after her return to her home in New York City.
I’m not sure what the genesis was for the style of this poem. I know little about jazz, and less about rap. Perhaps the rhythm was born of the turning of wheels, the tension and excitement from memories of subway rides in New York City, the relentless forward advance from the gritty determination to survive the wrenching separation from our newest grandchild after such a brief time together.
This was northern bush country grandmother meeting city granddaughter. Was I wondering if we could speak the same language, make the same music? But it was love at first sight.
I can still visualize the indoor park bench at Downsview Subway Station in Toronto, with tiny baby, wrapped against the winter cold, lying there so innocent and vulnerable, so out of place in an urban transit center filled with strangers, aloof and transient. She seemed to have been just dropped there out of nowhere, a gift to our world. With father and mother hovering nearby the image becomes in my mind a modern nativity, a babe in an unlikely place, of immense import to the two of us who had come to welcome her. With awe we peeked inside the blankets to gaze on our new little granddaughter, Priya. Then we all travelled north to celebrate a belated Christmas.
Christmas: to us a child is born. Christmas: the arrival of a child. Christmas: the journey to welcome, to worship, to open our hearts. Christmas: each baby born is a reminder, every journey an opportunity for pilgrimage, and every Christmas season another opportunity to worship.
—Elaine Gingrich, December 12, 2015
DOWNSVIEW STATION JAZZ RAP
To Priya (“Beloved”)
We met in Downsview station
When you visited our nation
From New York City on the overnight bus.
Parry Sound your destination
But Toronto the location
Where streets were gray and gritty when you first met us.
You slept like a pro on the overnight bus
Like a seasoned traveller who makes no fuss.
Child of the city, an urban daughter,
We met you at last, our third granddaughter.
Cradled on a bench in a subway shelter
You smiled contentedly in the chilly weather.
Parry Sound your destination
On the overnight bus
When you first met us.
In the chaos of commute, an island of repose,
I fell in love with you, from dark eyes to tiny toes,
The centre of our universe as travellers passed us by,
Unbelievably diminutive to hold our hopes so high.
Petite determination, tiny but so strong—
I ached to get acquainted and it didn’t take long.
You opened up your heart to us—so full of ready smiles
To grow a bond connecting us across the years and miles
With all the stunning impact of a little grandchild’s powers.
And all my mothering instincts rose to claim you—you are ours!
Making no fuss
When you first met us.
We headed up the highway to your family from away
To make the most of loving you, to count each precious day.
Child of New York City, but the north is in your veins.
Born south of the border, but the ancestry remains—
Looking like your daddy with your mommy’s eyes
Old baby photos demonstrate our family ties.
Through wonders of development and genealogy,
Genetics, procreation—God designed who you would be.
Jazz Loop: Downsview Downsview station
Where you first met us.
First met us
From the overnight bus
At Downsview station
Where you first met us.
Downsview station is where we said goodbye
Only one week later–I thought my heart would die—
A visceral tug as your parents rushed away
Among their bags and luggage toting you—you could not stay.
Downsview Downsview station
And you make no fuss
Heading via subway
To the overnight bus.
Back to New York City
Where the streets are gray and gritty.
With no choice of destination.
It was Downsview station where we met,
It is Downsview station when I close my eyes.
I see it in twilight—an empty park bench set
In the vacant station where I heard your gurgled cries.
Where you left our nation
On an overnight bus
But I will not fuss.
—Elaine Gingrich, February 6, 2009
For the rest of the poems in this monthly series, see here.
And if you enjoyed this poem, leave a comment here for Mom, or send her an email at . Thanks!
I can’t resist adding a few more pictures from Priya’s first visit to her northern grandparents. Here are some highlights.
6 thoughts on “Downsview Station Jazz Rap [Poem by Mom]”
I love this style! And your mother. 🙂 Thanks for posting.
Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it! 🙂
This was an absolutely delightful, sweet poem! It feels like the words just danced out onto your paper, in quick succession! Maybe you laboured over it, I don’t know. But it doesn’t read that way! God bless you!
Thank you Connie! You are absolutely right. I have no memory of agonizing over lines in this poem. It just poured out of my heart and intense memories–we forgot to take photos of our meeting–and gave release to my feelings, excited and poignant. It still gives me delight and a wee bit of an ache to dance through the lines again. 🙂
😊 A very merry, and blessed Christmas to you and yours!
I really really enjoyed that. Blessings to you and your family this season.