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.


His face seems to sink in on itself in the middle, his mouth an ungenerous harsh clinging to the edge of the precipice. He is wearing trendy glasses, reading Jonathan Franzen. I don't think I could love him.

I don't know how long he has been riding this train, but at this station, with its load, this car is full now. He is leaning against the pole with his entire back, not moving for the on-flood. I get my hand hold behind his neck, the only place his body is not.

A young family boards. Even though he has the privilege of wearing his father's oversized hat, the toddler is wailing those enormous heart break tears that anybody knows will be dried and forgotten in two stops. The man finally moves off the pole, giving the family purchase. I'd like to think it's kindness, but he probably just wants to get away from the noise.

The tropical storm is pulling through today, slowly, and everyone is wet, dirt-flecked shoes, rain-spotted shoulders. People manhandle the water off their umbrellas, the flapping folds like the flying ears of a wet dog shake. I'll get wet again on the walk to work from the station, and that's a welcome thing.


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