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.


When my roofer comes to pick up the payment for his work his hair is wild from the wind. His hands are black from tar, he is twisting them in front of his solid belly, a man uncomfortable at being indoors, discomfited by the company of women and domesticity.

A woman was strangled to death in her apartment two doors down from me, her body lay without notice for four days before the ME’s official vehicles wreak the street with warning lights.

On the front steps there are too many budding strawberries to count and when I water them in the morning a long-timer complains that I am always busy, no time for chatting. Now I know how carefully I am regarded, that could be a thing of greater importance.

There is a faint unpleasant smell when I sit on the front stoop and the pigeons above the door seem to have abandoned their nest. Or perhaps they have left it in spirit only and it is the body that I smell.

The sidewalk on the way to work is constellated with broken car window glass, an unmistakable blue glint into tiny pieces, and someone got the fix they needed last night.

I am not in too much of a hurry to not notice the first roses in the park next to my office, to see the flash of a mocking bird dive bombing from a high wall.

These things, stitched together in a long line, will gather me back home at the end of the day, unspool again in the morning. It is as gentle a settling as one could reasonably expect and for now it will suffice.


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