Fearing bronchitis I slept through the alarm
and didn’t get out until 9:15.
From the courtyard sparrows whistled on either side. The day felt complete, a
little tiring even. A police officer propped against a red door frowned when
my glance made him self-conscious. It turns out the building east of mine’s
a corrections facility. I’d always thought it was a school.
along the curb made Fifth Ave. expansive and sensual. Bedrooms projected
a broadcaster’s voice. I can’t remember crossing commuter tracks.
Along the James Weldon Johnson Homes a black woman pointed at a white man’s
chest: You should have attended the meeting I assigned! Audiocassette tape
dangled from branches. Somebody called to a seventh-floor window I’m
optimistic cause they said come back on Monday. Cars proclaimed themselves
red-and-white-striped everything. Sparrows guarding slices of toast stayed
surprisingly adept at repulsing pigeons. A dirtbike abandoned next to boxes
spun its wheels.
From 125th St. people on train platforms looked
glamorous and made of vapor.
Asians assessed a storefront with all its wiring exposed. A woman with crutches
propped herself to wait for the 101. Groups stood outside delis now that
it was warm. The Bus Stop Kitchenette was packed—the diner
exhaust smell made me think of families.
Pink and beige balloons
had become entwined to the back of a building called
TRICHA 6. Within a block the streets turned barren. Spotting stuffed animals
restored my inner strength. Both contact lenses began to flutter. When loud
teens approached I stared ahead with a sense of purpose. A stream poured
from one eye.
I feigned wiping a nostril, just to somehow gesture, then lunged bizarrely
towards them as they passed.
Amidst the Abraham Lincoln Homes a statue caressed
a rising black boy’s
cheek. Cars veered around garbage cans wedged into potholes. Cigarettes lined
the curb: McGeorge or something. A Peter Pan bus sped by en route to Boston
and I remembered being sad to leave the city like this.
the Madison Avenue Bridge began a crushed grape jelly jar spread
across pavement. I’d ascended out among tan projects. Industrial
currents brought on a headache, made me feel like the product
of furious whittling. When I bent
I found photographs of Bill Clinton. He looked angelic. An old guy in a Yankees
cap biked around construction barrels. Demolished cars below had prices chalked
On the trip back to Manhattan I sensed that from
one New York bridge you can always see others. A man slowed,
said How you feeling chief?
if Bronx people are extra friendly I made a Cuban jogger frown wishing her
hello. My jacket pocket swelled and grazed a taut kid’s thigh. An older
Puerto Rican peddled down Madison at just my pace. His bicycle gears creaked.
with my mood and general worldview was exquisite. Beside people in wheelchairs
waiting for busses a woman chewed on lottery printouts. A big white Italianate
house’s gingerbread drew me west. Someone around forty leaned from
his van to engage a boy dropping carpet at the curb. Two guys alternated
a Soloflex machine. They knew everybody.
The occasional white person crossing
Lenox looked relieved to have me to fixate on. A drunken blonde in drag
said Honey don’t tell me you don’t have
a quarter. Rice covered sidewalk but there wasn’t any church. An
abandoned wheelchair blew against trash. A Jewish woman with a chihuahua
in her bag
asked if we were at all close to Columbus. The dog crouched (quiet and
Around 112th a Dominican man got lost imagining
an argument. His voice kept coming as the distance grew between
us. Beneath scaffolds
hit dumpsters. By then it had to be about fifty degrees.
by Andy Fitch
published in There Journal