The girl smiled—at me—before leaving the office, one of those perfect teeth, perfect cheek, perfect eyes kind of smiles. Rows of florescent light in the building made her skin incandescent. It was summer, and she was taking a vacation, going home. I'll see you soon, she said, despite how little we knew one another. I looked out at Madison Square Park and pretended I was there, the afternoon rain collecting on my shoulders. Puddles formed in the uneven pockets of gravel and stone, little lakes that I wanted, for a moment, to dive into.
Later, a storm approached her city. I watched the weather report, bothered by the local weatherman, who acted at once nonchalant and grave. The people of the Gulf Coast, he said, wouldn't be frightened by this dame. I tried not to give it much thought. Things grew stronger, though, building and building and then, early on a Monday, finding home.
I think of that storm now, of that girl and the years that connected us afterwards: both seem far away. Of the anticipation and brute force. Of the circular repetition. Of the reach, the ability to shift things that should remain constant. Of how, at the center, there was a calm, which lasted only long enough to take a breath.
published 6 September 2011