We spent part of the fourth of July in Chinatown and it was delightful. My ‘sometimes’ hairdresser worked her magic as always, the Shzechuan food was cloyingly sweet, everything looked festive and people were back on the streets that were quite literally awash in colour.

That’s because we walked along Doyers Street, which is between Pell Street and Bowery, where lay painted  ‘Rice Terraces,’ a 4,800 square foot asphalt art mural,  created by artist Dasic Fernandez. ‘Rice Terraces’ features 44 vibrant colors along the snaking roadway that runs through this old Chinatown neighbourhood, which is home to many long time restaurants and other businesses. The Mural was inspired by  rice cultivation terraces commonly found in China and is meant to serve as an attraction for visitors returning to Chinatown, as NYC continues to reopen. The neighbourhood was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic as reports of the virus’ origin in Wuhan, China, sparked fear, misinformation and discrimination that kept visitors away. [1] I didn’t get a photo unfortunately as there were many people standing on the mural, so here’s one I took from the web.

Rice Terraces Mural on Doyers Street Photo-credit:

The post though, is not about Chinatown as much as it about the theme of Liberty and Freedom. As the United States celebrates  Independence Day today, we were pleasantly surprised when Clara Ysé’s soulful ‘Libertad’ began to play while on our drive to downtown Manhattan. It felt like the Universe conspired just then to play a song on liberty; simply a conceit that the world revolves around us but makes a great story nevertheless 🙂 Yet, there was something about the song that made me look up the lyrics. I have since discovered that this is from Clara Ysé’s eponymous first short album with songs in French, Spanish and English. ‘Libertad’ is in Spanish, co-written and composed with Yulian Malaj. As I have expressed many times before, the depth of what people feel appears to touch us across borders, boundaries and bodies in what may be a blissful or a wounding coincidence. Clara Dufourmantelle, the name she was born with, lost her mother in 2017 to drowning, as she tried to rescue two teenagers during a severe storm. Perhaps, this is why her album is, as one website noted, [2] a work of life, of rebirth, with a voice that comes from the gut and lifts up to the soul, in music as mixed as its origins.

In the song, Fées magnétiques, she sings: “I will tell you my angels that without you these days / I would have joined my mother in paradise / Thanks to you my dear friends I learned / To cherish the savagery of our bodies ”.

The song Libertad is of a rich poignancy, it rushes feelings through the tributaries of sound even as a young woman sings that she isn’t afraid of the blackest nights and of the colourless sea even if they stay, or does she will them to stay? She is aware of the illusion and this awareness is liberty for her perhaps. A river that roots the moon, clouds that gallop in the old lagoon, like the wind between her hands … liberty manifests in many ways for different people; as a lack of restrictions within society, the power to act as one pleases, an independence of thought, freedom from oppression, freedom from fear …

This song touched me; the words are soulful poetry, beautifully composed and I wished very much to write a poem on the same theme although with a flavour of my day. I also managed to translate Clara Ysé’s song from the original that was in Spanish [3] with the App and it seems to stay true to that version. I have included it below.

listen to Libertad here:

The fireworks from the Empire State Building this evening
On Liberty by Davina E. Solomon

Maneki-neko beckons Luck,
like the lady were walking
down Doyers street,
handing fortune cookies.

And this golden cat,
waves a paw at the window,
smiling for success ...
It is simply a conceit

that the universe writes us
poems in love songs on the radio,
or signals contempt like in the accent
of a cold caller or hate perhaps,

as mistrust drips from
collective eyes to paint in our faces, patriotic hues that don't exist.
The streets, terraced in rainbows,

peddled every shade in fruity
confections, so we thought,
but they only stroked metaphors
in the interplay of light.

Until memories fray yesterday,
Today will keep time locked in a mural
Or some creative artifice,
thinking we be liberated from their devise.

The conceit of attentions, theirs,
ours, feeling fears, exultations,
in the imaginings of beliefs,
simply beliefs that imagine Fogbows

And as the cloak of night descends
on the Empire State or a singular
conceit, there are sparkling Moonbows,
on the forever crinkled waters of the Hudson.




[3]~Spanish lyrics

Libertad by Clara Ysé

I don't want to sing about love anymore
I don't want to talk about hugs anymore
I'm not afraid of the desert, of the distant lights
Of the blackest nights, and of the colorless sea

In the Silence the Sun is born
And from the Silence the Cry is born
Miracle of the dawn, of your silent body
Ships and snow come out, whole worlds come out

Liberty.  Liberty.  Liberty.  Liberty

Stay, like the wind between my hands
Stay, like the dance of the gypsy witches

Stay, like the river that roots the moon
Like the clouds that gallop in the old lagoon


Liberty.  Liberty.  Liberty.  Liberty
Liberty.  Liberty.  Liberty.  Liberty

Translated through GoogleTranslate; I hope it does justice to the song. The original Spanish Lyrics are below.