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.


The F train is going above ground, pulling out from the tunnel. I jump up, press my face to the window like a tourist. I have been back all of an hour and I am stupidly enthralled to look down and see a grungy urban panorama of floodlit parking lot next to the McDonald’s next to the stained concrete pillars of raised highway. The highway traffic has slowed, a red dragon of tail lights crawling through the sky, behind it the far off tiny white Christmas lights of the New Jersey cargo ports. We are headed to a decrepit station, rusting utilitarian ugliness at the subway system’s highest point over the Gowanus Canal. I crane my neck as we hit the curve because I know what comes next, hold, wait for it, wait for it, there it is, the Statue of Liberty levitating over the dark metal streams of nighttime traffic.


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