Essays, Writing about New York

Frau of Loisaida

Marlis Momber – Frau of Loisaida

Educated in Fine Arts;

witness to Berlin’s destruction;

immigrant to America in ’66;

glossy uptown job; yet lured

back to another war zone:

New York’s Lower East Side


Camera in hand, defenseless

against murder, rape and drug dealers,

she roamed Avenue A, B, and C amongst

the rubble, the poverty and pain.

For thirty years she clicked away,

the Frau of Loisaida.

She squatted there;

in the Umbrella House with

its leaky roof, rats and roaches.

Married, had a child, bonded with

the fabric of the neighborhood.

Saw her man shipped off to Vietnam and returned

a slave to the needle; he died.

She stayed.

His guns buried with him; her cameras remained

to shoot and shoot and shoot the people,

the empty shells, squalor and childhoods lost to

the rubble of empty lots until the day they

took a stand and declared the ruined ground sacred

and worthy of a fight. So they rallied and battled

got jailed and nailed by the police.

The squatters became owners by sheer will

and paid for properties with buckets of sweat and

all the while she clicked and enlarged and developed a

history of a place and a generation of people

who took a land of ash and trash and

turned it into a place they called home: Loisaida.

Michael Domino
© 2014
Avenue C, Loisaida
Lower east Side.
Manhattan, NY
Word count: 218
Originally published in Cadillac on the Bowery.

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