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no invitation

We are at a 3 year old's birthday party in the back room of a cafe. Music is pumping from a tiny speaker. Balloon animals are popping, and waving in the air. A man in a yellow dinosaur costume dances wildly. Parents snap pictures with satisfied smiles on their faces.

A little girl approaches gingerly and stands in the doorway, straying from her parents somewhere inside the restaurant. She cannot be more than three. It must be hard to ignore all of the noise coming from this room packed with celebration. There is a perfect little pony tail at the back of her head. She hesitates, as one foot poises in the air and then rests back down. How to understand that she was not invited. How to understand the laughter, the loose jumping bodies, the presents piled high on the window. None of this connects to her. There is a little plate of food waiting for her back there, in the quiet restaurant. Maybe a warm bowl of soup, thick with noodles. I watch her for some time.

That night, her empty e…

Ouroboros


The city feels like a windowsill full of dead flies. Yes, the sun still pushes through the trees and long into rooms, fingering the edges of tables and piles of dusty books. The trolley buses lurch up and down the empty streets, all clanging metal and thick layers of paint that fall off like shingles. I used to take pictures of makeshift ashtrays left in the corridors, typically a certain can of peas painted with grey ash. The elevator doors bang open, empty. There are low voices in the stairwell, and the shuffling of feet in slippers. The snake is eating its own tail, day after day here. But does it really reinvent itself each time? Does it change at all after dying and being reborn? 

A man sleeps on a bench. The Leica is hanging loose by my side and I decide I will take one more picture of a drunk, his red cheeks dappled by the leaves moving in the breeze. A giant truck rumbles past, spraying water on the street. They do this here randomly, even spraying water when it is raining. I do not pretend to understand anything about this place any more. The man does not flinch, even as some of the spray reaches his sweaty hair. I move behind him, seeing his black hat perched on the corner, hovering above his cane. I take a few more, hearing the quiet sound of my own breath, noticing how I hold it at the moment I click, an old habit I learned to be more steady. And then the camera hides in my bag as someone is approaching. I step high over the fence, and disappear down a side street. 

There is construction going on here, great piles of dirt and orange plastic are stretched across things in a zig-zagging makeshift fence. The machines stand still, forgotten yellow beasts crusted with mud. They will sit like this all weekend, I think or maybe longer.  







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