Even the streets know my name. When trees bend in conspiracy with the wind; when the moon looks over my shoulder, and looks away: that is when I am at the center of things. Most days cars pass by without a honk. I ride the subway with thousands of people who would rather do anything than take me home. Those days I take the long way back, change trains and drift through Coney Island in fall; empty carousels, gray skies; I walk along the Atlantic and suddenly hear its message whispered in my skull: One day this will all be mine. It isn't angry. It does not blame.

When the laughing kids get quiet as I pass by, and the beautiful faces on the train flash a cruel smile before turning away: that is when I am in control. Take the payphone, for instance. I am escaping the gaze of a cat in the store window when it suddenly explodes to life: ringriiiingriiiing... I answer:

"What do you want?"


"Who is this?"


"Is anyone there?"

That's when I hear it:

"Say goodbye."


"Goodbye." And then there is silence, which lasts for a long second before the dial tone comes, crashing like a wave, and knocks me awawy

For six days and six nights I stay inside. Who could it be? What could it mean? Each evening the sky turns from blue to red. City lights shine a curtain that keeps thousands of stars hidden from view, like so many cameras blinking. What do they want to know? What could they possibly need to see -- now, after 2.4 million years of footage: of birth and fracture of bone; of skin into dust into air and back to skin, in the mouth and through the lungs, over and over again? In the dark the streets keep running from here to there. I can feel them --- they are looking for me, waiting to take me down the river to the place where yellow lines meet so the asymptote can finally collaspe, and God will show Himself to me, and the world He made in my image, and I will become like a camera, like a star.

I am too scared to see. On the seventh day I wake with tape round my ears and eyes and everything has suddenly changed: the birds are flying south again, nights are getting longer; people are born and die in a city that does not remember my name. It is Sunday: I take the train to Coney Island and watch the Atlantic Ocean move like it always does, rising a little more each day.


No comments: