_by John Merwin
_Fish are where you find them. In the case of this photo, the fish are American shad in a tile mosaic. The artwork is on the Brooklyn-bound side of the New York City subway “F” line at the Delancy Street station. It’s by an artist named Ming Fay and was installed in 2004. These are big ones. The mosaic is about 7 feet tall. _
_The shad at the Delancy Street subway got me to thinking first about Richard Rogers and Lorenz Hart, the fabled composer and lyricist who included Delancy in their classic 1925 song, “Manhattan.” As in “…It’s very fancy / on old Delancy / Street, you know…”
That reminded me of the late Ella Fitzgerald, whom I once heard live in concert and who was the greatest jazz singer ever to turn a note. She sang a lot of Rogers and Hart’s tunes, along with many by their contemporary Cole Porter.
It was in remembering hearing Fitzgerald singing Porter that brought me back to shad. In Porter’s wonderful 1928 song, “Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall In Love)” there’s a bit about shad: “…why ask if shad do it / Waiter, bring me shad roe!….”
It’s been quite a while since I’ve eaten shad roe (sauteed as whole sacs with bacon). So maybe next spring I’ll take up fly fishing for shad again and stock the larder. Meanwhile, I got to thinking about what to do amidst all our high water and washed-out bridges. Maybe follow another Cole Porter dictum from a different song, “…take a kayak / to Quincy or Nyack…” and get away from it all.
All just musings on a summer afternoon…