jolie laide

jolie laide

I started this when I lived in Brooklyn and struggled for grace in a city that grants moments of beauty and ugliness breathtakingly close to one another. Now I live in a place where things are a different kind of ugly and the beauty is pedestrian. I struggle with that.


I wasn’t going to say anything. There are so many words already and there is so much work to be done, here, now.

But I exit the subway station to an achingly beautiful clear blue sky. Just like that day. And an emergency vehicle screams by, jolting me further back. Something nearby is on fire and it is an unnatural smell, not like wood, but like plastic, synthetics. There are police cars, secret service, security vans everywhere. And so there I am, again.

My office in the park was oddly removed from the horror that was occurring. I stayed, captaining that ship, until all of my staff found a safe place to stay, found their relatives, found a way to get home. I was there until late in the afternoon, when neighborhood families, reunited and relieved, starting coming into the park. Like delicate deer, they nosed out of the trees and into the meadow, the ball fields, the pond’s edge, the gentleness of the landscape drawing them in.

Then the dark clouds moved overhead. They were not clouds bearing rain, but a different kind of precipitate, the incineration of the buildings and all that were in it. Debris starting falling from the sky, dust, ash, little pieces of paper, raining everywhere. I saved none of it but the memory.


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