Published May 20, 2009
Tall guy says to me, “You’re a beautiful lady, you just made my day walkin’ by here.”
Little guy crossing the street says, “Mine too.”
Tall guy calls out to him, “Right? You work all day, you deserve to see something beautiful.”
Little guy says, “It’s like the icing.”
Published May 19, 2009
Six antsy cops are guarding the corners against some dark potential I can’t perceive. The kids have been sprung for the day, milling around on the sidewalks. Somehow they’ve all grown great pillows of fat since I saw them last, it spills out of their tight clothes, and now their bodies take up as much of the sidewalk as their voices.
Around the corner on a sidestreet, some girls are jumping double dutch, thump-thump, thump-thump, thump-thump, thump-thump, “ice cream soda pop cherries on top / how many boyfriends do you got?”
Published May 13, 2009
That guy who wanted to carry my groceries is back. He’s not looking so fine today, a grubby t-shirt and sweat beading up on the dome of his head. He’s pacing off some anger, punching the air. “He’s not even a citizen. What’s he talking about,” he grumbles to the guys by the bodega. He spits in the gutter. “Cocksucker.”
Published May 9, 2009
I’ve got a grocery bag hanging from each hand. On the corner there’s a beefy guy with a shaved head and gold chains. He’s got sharp clothes and I’ve never seen him before. He says to me, “Hey beautiful, tell me those bags are heavy so I can carry them for you.”
“Oh, they’re not that heavy,” I say, but I’m smiling, it’s an easy day in the neighborhood, everybody spilling outside with the rain finally gone.
“My head is heavy cause I’m sad you said that.” He’s got his hand on his pleading heart, his forehead down.
Then a curvy woman crosses between us and says, “You head heavy because it’s big.”
Published May 8, 2009
The line is long and slow, isn’t it always. The man in front of me is rocking a sleeping baby back and forth in a cheap stroller. He’s got the blackest hair and his skin is rosy brown. Finally it’s his turn, and there’s something a little frightened in the way he approaches the window. He’s holding out a tissuey paper, a carbon of some kind of official form. His words are soft and incomplete as he says to the clerk, “I need a photocopy. Can I do here?” She shakes her head. “No?” he asks, still a little hopeful. “I can not do that here?” The clerk waves him away.
He turns the stroller around and wheels it slowly toward the door. He’s looking at the paper in his hand. He’s navigating strange territory, things don’t work the way they work at home. He’s got the door open when a fat woman steps out of the line, clucking her tongue at the whole situation. “Over there,” she tells him, pointing out the window. “Across the street at the Arab store. They do it.” She patted him on the arm. “Just cross the street, honey.”
I swear he was about to cry.