sky is a color I love. Colors really. A full spectrum of blue. That
color that reminds you how huge the sky really is. A slice of white
moon, the only edges in a perfect deep blueness. And the dewy grass
seeps through my sneakers. This is my reality, this place with its
chips of diamond stars and its reaching spreading sky-bound trees.
woman boards the train. It's Friday night and week weary commuters
stare at each other looking at nothing, the air tense with that dangerous
Friday combination of excitement and exhaustion. We are all eager
to get home, to not think, to not think for two whole days in fact.
But a woman boards the train. She is weeping. Wracking sobs.
am homeless. I take lithium for depression, I don't drink or do drugs,
I was raped and robbed for all my money. I am riding the train for
money for formula and diapers and some food for myself. Can someone
please help me?" We've all heard this tale before, but the way she
is crying . . . Everyone shifts a little in our Friday postures, but
nobody moves to help her. She repeats herself, and again, and again.
Her sobbing grows frantic. And we all don't want to think about her.
We are used to such displays of misery, but usually one slow walk
through the car and they move on to the next one. Why won't she just
leave? But she doesn't leave; instead she goes person to person.
you help me?"
the first person answers.
Why won't you help me?" she cries. Of course he cannot answer. We
all pray to the smiling faces of subway advertisements that we won't
be the next asked. It goes on one after another, "will you help me?
....why won't you help me?" The shifting of Friday commuters has become
its own frozen dance. Shifting hoping she won't perceive the motion
and target us next.
the stretching branches of trees build spider web fingers across my
sky. Arms and legs tangled against deepest blue. And my socks are
growing damp now in this swimming sky of trees.
hand out clumps of Chore Boy scrubbers and rubber joints for crack
pipes and picture burn-split lips sealed with dried up blood. I'm
smiling casually as I load a paper bag with cookers and cotton and
extra bleach and distilled water, joking with the next sallow faced
man on line. There are only condoms enough for a handful each but
this man's eyes are pleading, outstretched hands, "for my daughters"
he whispers. I shovel handful after handful into a bag for him and
try not to think of that girl with her worn pelvic bones slicing through
what once were the walls of her vagina.
toes are now wet in my sneakers. I am angry at the trees for their
perfect greenness and at the nerve of the daffodils pushing their
yellow smiling faces through the dirt. "Stop smiling" I want to scream,
but the color of the sky steals my breath and I can't.
is the angriest little girl I have ever met. Her little girl face
is glued into a sneer, a glare that prevents me from forming any warmness.
I touch her shoulder without realizing it and a shudder shatters from
the place I have touched like an electric shock. I remember to never
touch her again. I am afraid of this little girl; her thinness more
a threat than a frailty.
I am not breathing and I am floating through the blue, with dripping
soppy sneaker toes and dragging dirty damp shoelaces. Surrounded by
sparkles of sky held starfish.
Phaedra loves me more than she should. We have just met but she is
clinging to my neck so tightly I can scarcely breathe let alone think
about putting her down. She will do this every time I walk into the
room. Her mother will scold a little, I will disengage and meet the
clinging tackles of the other children who love me more than they
should. They will make me their jungle gym, they'll run their hands
and brushes through my strange silky white girl hair. And they will
shiver in the summer, get the flu in July, and Delores will be sent
"home" with ringworm because she lives in a place where the staff
advises me to avoid the bathroom.
dinner we eat warm crusty bread, fresh tomatoes, avocado. The rice
is dressed with summer vegetables and a sweet spicy peanut sauce.
We eat juicy mangoes with brie. After dinner we join a drove of half
dressed, blonde-haired teenagers at the local Dairy Queen. The summer
is so hot the frozen creaminess practically steams as we scoop it
into our mouths. And later I take a walk. Half a mile into the woods
a field spreads out suddenly around me. It is twinkling. Really truly
twinkling. A million fireflies laughing at me, absently swatting mosquitoes,
slack jawed, forgetting wet sneakers.