Friday, April 20, 2007

Thoughts On The Corner of 56th & 6th

It is rather isolating standing on the corner of 56th and 6th. You can stand at the corner, by the F train stop, smoking a cigarette, reach down and turn the music up. The sky scrapers tower high above, glass reflecting the other. And if you stretch your neck back enough, you can see a orange-tinged blue sky with almost perfect clouds.
It always makes me smile.

I guess it reminds me of the terrace in the new floor back home in Delhi. (yes scout, go make fun of the fact that I miss home but this is more about finding a quiet space!)
This December I had the pleasure of having the whole apartment to myself with a spanking new TV and a shower to die for, but the point is the terrace. It’s not that big. And there’s nothing special about it. Heck, it had a paint spattered ladder against the wall from when the laborers painted it. But it was my space. It was big enough for me to pace up and down, smoking a cigarette. I could look at the green belt behind my house and see kids playing cricket, the odd buffalo, which normally would have been incongruous but hells bells, it is Delhi. I could look over the side and see the neighbors terrace, their laundry still damp and refusing to dry up in the cool winter evening. And it was the same blue sky, tinged orange with a setting sun.

While the quiet was calming after a busy day running around the city, there was an omission, the wanting to share it with someone/her. Or the pleasure I get in being with someone I like, alone, quiet, lost in thought yet knowing I can reach out at any moment and touch their thoughts and pull at the threads.

But it’s the same sky, the same feelings, just another day, place and one more cigarette.


The more I have tried to hold on, the harder it has been, the more it/they have slipped. But it’s hard to fall backward without reaching out, grasping at something. But then there comes a point of inevitable acceptance of the futility of trying to hold on . But at the same time you hope that you learn to fly before hitting the ground.

I’ve learned mine can’t be filled,
only alchemized. Many times
it’s become a paragraph or a page.
But usually I’ve hidden it,
not knowing until too late
how enormous it grows in its dark.
Or how obvious it gets
when I’ve donned, say, my good
cordovans and my fine tweed vest
and walked into a room with a smile.
I might as well have been a man
with a fez and a faux silver cane.

Better, I know now,
to dress it plain,
to say out loud to *some right person *
*in some right place *
that there’s something not there
in me, something I can’t name.
That some right person
has just lit a fire under the kettle.
She hasn’t said a word.
Beneath her blue shawl
she, too, conceals a world.

But she’s amazed
how much I seem to need my emptiness,
amazed I won’t let it go.

Stephen Dunn.

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