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I was in New York near the end of August this summer visiting my friend Jan who, with her husband, has an apartment in a building designed by I. M. Pei. The city morgue is within shouting distance from them.  After 9/11, for almost a year, the broad sidewalk along the front of the apartment building was wall to wall tents where people could bring DNA samples to try to identify their lost loved ones, with very few results. In the afternoon Jan led me on a walk through her neighborhood of Murray Hill to Madison Square Park. It was a beautiful day. Crossing through the park we skirted an open grassy area. In the middle was a huge sculpture that looked to be a kind of white egg rising from a rounded pedestal. As we walked around the space, the changing shadows made it clear that the vertical raised design down the back of the egg was a braid and that the entire piece was a woman’s head. Her face was very serene and soft, an image of introspection. I was puzzling over the title on a plaque, ‘Zen’, and the simply cordoned off green. A few folks walked through an opening and stood or sat quietly alone. Then Jan leaned into me and whispered with emotion, “Look, look where she’s facing”. I turned my head to see where she was looking and followed her gaze, “The twin towers used to be right there,” she said pointing above the remaining buildings between. Jaume Plensa may not have been a good match for Raleigh, but he nailed it in Manhattan.

Marilyn can be reached at You can see the work of OCAG artists at

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