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.


Our comptroller smokes on the roof. I think I am the only person who knows this. It is an odd, old building, and I have the only office with a view across the courtyard and up to the top of the building.

Sometimes I know he is there only because of the faint frisson of white smoke, a dissipating sugar lace fading into the flat blue sky. Sometimes he sits on the parapet and I can watch him, examine the curve of his back, the angle of his head as he looks up, imagine his squint into the free air so high off the ground. Sometimes he paces, patrolling the rooftop, and I catch a faraway slice of his rough, not unhandsome face, his interestingly, dramatically, badly broken nose, there in contrast with his beautiful fine shirts, the cuffs turned back in casual elegance.


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