Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A photograph of someone that I knew

In the event of something happening to me....
We are straining our ears here, for the quasi metaphorical rising, amidst the horrific war news, the floods and sludge, the killing, the economy, depressing elections looming... of the human canaries who are being brought up the half-mile into light, knowing the meaning of patience, of not knowing, of the prayer of faith in human ingenuity and persistence, of clinging to the fragile relentless hope of engineers and workmen who are bringing them, one by one, as they came into this world, back.

One wonders how the order is determined, the ebb and flow of human generosity among such a crew pre-accustomed of course to confinement. The rising. The world is again addicted to TV, a kind of baptismal hope, the lessons of the Chilean people who only months ago endured a traumatic earthquake and were rather stoic about their recovery. A Marquez-esque morality tale here... this does not happen everywhere.

I am reminded of the man in Kiruna, Sweden, who paints murals for the miners who endure the 6 months of darkness even when they come up to the freezing surface to break. Trompe l'oeuil landscapes in the stone walls, lit by a kind of eerie mercury glow....

I think of other mining families in other disasters whose loved ones were not so lucky, who endured days and weeks of waiting only to find the nightmare of endless entombment... how unbearable the joy of these families for them...

Coming uptown late last night---4 AM on the #6 train, through the deepest tunnels I am able to find in my city... with the night MTA miners working the tracks, and the tired wrecks of celebrity riding the cars. We working girls seem to find one another at this hour, we take safety in numbers, acknowledge without eye contact our long shadows and nightshades. Across from me last night--- a young prostitute, boots and bag of matching turquoise, impossible heels, suede leggings soaked and ruined by the passing Monday thundersquall, her nearly punk red wig slightly misplaced, eyes deep and wet and her mouth pale. She was beautiful, in a hard, unclean way, and while the black women next to me eyed her with disdain, I dared not judge her who had worked her body equally hard and perhaps bore some inner physical wound we could not see. Her shirt was tight and of a darker blue, with a sequinned heart embroidered exactly where hers might still be... a thin roll of flesh at her waist, but her legs were fine and long... we exchanged admiration... and she began to weep, without looking away...it went on--- 4, 5 stops-- as I got off, I did not touch her, but our mouths in unison pulled wide and I felt her turquoise sister soul somehow....we working girls, she a miner of something no one will rescue...I wonder if she is watching CNN from a mattress somewhere... I can smell her earthy thin perfume, her musky damp sex, hear her hoarse voice, the rocky dry weeping.

Dios mio, a woman cried. My husband. There are lonely people in New York who will never know this joy, who are trapped and sad--the rich, the poor, the huddled, the solitary, the imprisoned, the addicted.

Don't go talking too loud, Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck...you'll cause a landslide.

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