Sunday, January 24, 2010

The neighborhood

I step out the back door of my new building, and see a man in a doorway across the street. He’s sobbing out loud, his mouth open like a little kid.

It’s raining hard today and the train is packed, people stuffed close enough to smell. A young man gets on; he reminds me of a kid I knew in college. Open, freckled face, good raincoat. He’s talking earnestly to someone, but I can’t pick out who it is.

“Sure, they’re thinking, why does he get to stand there?”

I look closely at the woman next to him to see if she is the one he’s addressing. She looks closely at me. We both realize it’s neither of us, or both of us and everyone on the train. His hand holds the pole directly in front of my nose. He wears a ring on his left pinky; dolphins are embossed on the band.

“That’s why I’m the focus, that’s why they’re studying me,” he says.

“It’s not crazy to hear voices,” he says, “It’s just crazy to answer them.”

I get off at my station. A man stands just outside the turnstiles. He holds a Fed-Ex box. He holds it out to passers-by, asking, asking, but I can’t tell what it is he wants. I can’t tell what he wants, but I recognize the gesture, the heart’s need for something, and how many of us confuse one want for another? We all want something that we can’t always name. We all sob aloud – in our room if we have one – or quietly, hoping not to wake the person sleeping beside us. I turn away from the naked need of the man with the box, the sobbing man, the woman selling scavenged copies of Street Sheet, unable to answer, ashamed of the echoed need in my own heart.


Anonymous said...

Do you remember the time when choreography and performing your own writing was like sending an arrow out into the darkness -- that inchoate residence of possibilities -- and hoping to strike The Target -- the Target being a resonant heart beating in a resonant being who would then become the friend that truly understood you, or the lover that got the things you didn't say because you couldn't bring yourself to say that which is most naked, exposed, and terrifying within you?

Ma belle, so it is for me still, though I have failed to strike the target. Over and over again have the arrows fallen.

Geo said...

How can it ever be crazy, really, to answer the voices that speak to you?

And where is the shame in your need?

I love you.

Anonymous said...

You write like I remember you. Thoughts on paper like light through the trees...constantly shimmering and shifting.


Anonymous said...

I have been catching up with you this last few days. Your blog almost lets me know you again, almost... I miss our discussions on everything and yet haven't discussed anything with you in over 20 years. And now my anonymity gets in the way but I cling to it like a shield.

Your love for your husband is evident in much of your work. He is lucky to have your. Tell him an old friend said as much.


Chemical Billy said...

Ma belle, I don't need to remember. It's that way still and always.

Geo, I have no answer to that - only thanks and thanks.

Anonymous J, I think it's time you revealed yourself. My curiosity is awake.