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you are not there

We are taking the little one for a ride on her new sled. It is bright orange, with a fuzzy black and white seat cover to keep her extra warm. Her tiny hands in tiny gloves hold the sides as tight as she can. I pull her down a path, shouting "woohooo" and then she replies "woohoo". N's turn is next, pulling her more schoolgirl than mother for a few minutes. There are other parents with children on sleds passing us. Their eyes straight forward, faces completely blank they slip by in silence. I flash a smile to them, and they do not even look at me. I am not there, just another tree leaning towards the stream that runs below.

There are ducks still, flapping around the brackish water and we throw pieces of stale bread to them. I start to think, not about the complete absence of smiles in this culture. I stopped asking about that long ago, told over and again that smiles are reserved for home, behind closed doors. But I wonder, for the children -  these wiggling bu…

messy clocks (to be seen)


The walk to school in the morning happens in darkness now. E's hands are shoved into her pockets, boots dragging across the dry, cold asphalt. We talk very little, maybe about what I should make for dinner. How many times back and forth across this little park, the fountains turned off now? How many times across this intersection, where the cars run three or four at a time through the red light no matter how many policemen are watching? We have both lost count.

I follow the faces to keep myself sane. There is of course the man who plays accordion in the underpass, but he appears randomly. There are people we pass every day, like a messy clock. The woman with the face like a potato that begs for loose change. She crosses herself every time a person passes, eyes lowered, standing perfectly still. I saw her in the street once, hands waving around, laughing. The exact opposite of the persona she shares in the dim fluorescent light of this wet tunnel.

There is the school nurse, short with red hair going grey who pretends she does not know who I am. There is a school teacher for a different class of fourth graders who does the same. There is a young woman who helps the children get downstairs and put their coats on. We would call her a recess aide back home. Her face is round, legs like a piano but she still wears skirts and boots with spike heels. She also looks down as we pass each other every morning.

A man with long grey hair and sneakers walks quickly. He lights a cigarette without stopping, shoulders flung back, chest pressing into the cold air.

A woman with long dark hair does not walk. She swishes. She wobbles on high heels, some odd smug look painted large on her face. The path littered with dead leaves is her catwalk. Chin poking out, eyes, half-lowered she does look at me sideways as I pass her. Maybe she sees the paper clip I fixed my parka zipper with. Maybe she thinks I should get a shave. Maybe she just likes to be seen.




Comments

liv said…
Just another day in paradise.

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