Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Sunrise Park

On 37th Street there’s no sidewalk next to the cemetery, so you walk alongside the railyard. The windowless train car—“not in service” where a letter bubble ought to be—approaches, dragging its chain of flatbeds, and a man steps out like it’s the front door of his house. He climbs down, picks up something from the tracks I can’t quite see, and gets back on board, easing up to the end of the line. More “not in service” cars proliferate, then the yellow-and-black striped work cars, some red-and-white ones. Notices on the sides warn that no crew member is to get on a crane car while in motion. A crane car! The cranes are slumbering, though, in the early morning heat, alongside the warren of trailer cars and mysterious little boxy buildings. A D train emerges out of the greenery on the other side of the yard, heading for the elevated tracks of New Utrecht Road. Not so delightful as my favorite Old New Utrecht Road, but not half bad.

Heading downslope, the railyard expands until you reach the open gates. An orange security guard sits idle near the entrance. So many people are out sitting on stoops and ledges this morning, and it’s not even 8. What do they do all day? The headstones sit, too, awash in foliage, neat wrought-iron signs denoting idyllic lanes. Not to be outdone, the railyard has a sign too: Burma Road, it announces, black letters on white.

Last week, filming for Men in Black III rendered downtown Brooklyn years younger, proliferating vintage subway signs and the borough’s old blue-and-white street markers. Stepping off the bus and noticing the first green subway entrance, still dazed with sleep, I did a double-take, half-believing I’d entered another world. The railyard too is another world, less artificial but just as unusual. Coming out onto Fourth Avenue—oh, okay—I reenter reality: crush of the N train, tunnel, Brooklyn Bridge. The day’s already heating up but somewhere work trains still rest within the shade.

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