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.


Today I picked up a crumpled dollar bill of God's money and I knew I would be giving it tonight to the street case at the top of the subway stairs, clinging to the pay phone to anchor his shame. I press it into his outstretched palm, feel his hand under mine, his fingers clevering closed.

In the middle of the sidewalk a little girl is spinning, spinning, her short dark braids pinwheeling and sailed out by white barrettes while her father and his friends laugh and lean against the bodega wall, indulgent and protective, and my face splits a grin.

The grey soled grocery store has the first of spring's cherries, yawning cashiers who chat into their celphones in languages I can only guess at, raspberries so fresh and perfect to eat them will feel like theft, and the guy who camps at check out with his bootleg videos for sale.

A long sweet run on a night when the air traffic to LaGuardia goes right over the park, shivering and screaming the air, lights flickering in the blue hour.

If we had tornadoes in this town I would never leave it.


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