Sparkle Street Press
This updates page has been out of commission, and in repairing it, we lost all the entries since 2012. We’re thinking of updating the whole site in the new year, but in the meantime, here’s something never-before published that I read yesterday at a holiday reading at Sanjay Agnihotri and Jeff Wright’s Local Knowledge series at Swift’s Hibernian, NYC.
for David Loy
I lit a cigarette actually in the revolving door, so my first draft of smoke came mixed with a deep winter-night cold as I stepped outside. It was the night they lit the tree at Rockefeller Center, about 9:30, and I cut through the crowds of people who were milling around Radio City and shuffling up and down Sixth Avenue and wondering what to do now and whether they’d had the experience they came for, and the souvenir tables and food carts that were there for the occasion, and the cops, and the metal barriers they’d set up for crowd control. Big snowflake lights were playing on the buildings across the plaza. I stood at the corner looking into the uptown taxi headlight stream of Sixth Avenue, waiting to cross. A white cloud was gushing from an orange-and-white-striped steam pipe in the middle of the road, and a streetlight was hanging in the midst of it like a little nothing moon. I made my way to the subway, carrying a bag with a pair of boots I’d had heeled, and helped a woman carry a stroller with a baby in it down the stairs while her little boy came cautiously down beside us clutching the rail. The turnstiles were jammed and backed up with people who were less hurried and less with-it than the usual crowd in that station, and there were more people on the train than usual on a Wednesday night, and they were in a different mood from the people who were usually on the train at that hour, in better spirits because they were out late in that part of town and they’d done something different tonight. They were tourists of their home city. Some schoolgirls were laughing and passing a plate of cupcakes across the aisle, and there were kids in puffy jackets with hoods and winter hats. The passengers thinned out at the downtown stops, 42nd, 34th, 23rd. At 14th I changed for the L and listened to a guy on the platform who was playing a six-string bass through a little amp and singing through a headset microphone. I got a seat on the L and finished the chapter of the book I was reading, and then found myself watching a family with two little girls in black coats and black knit hats. They were a South American family, maybe Indians. The mother got the girls in front of where she was sitting and the father stood watch over them. He was wearing a black overcoat and a black suit and a white shirt and a tie as though they’d been to church or he’d dressed for the tree lighting, and he’d said excuse me to someone with a depth of courtesy which caught my ear. The girls were bundled up like little old ladies. I was watching them, just watching them with no thought of myself doing it, and then I noticed myself watching them in this way of pure human curiosity and affection and simplicity, and then of course I was watching myself watching them—in other words, it was half an act at that point, but that was okay because there’s no way out of the hall of mirrors once you’ve noticed yourself, and it had started in earnest and was still half real anyway. It felt good to be alone and unattached. I liked the feeling of time on my skin, time and chance. I felt like anything could happen. I felt a lightness I could never feel when I was attached to someone. Freedom of movement, I guess. For me, love is either particular or it’s general, it’s one or the other. I love one person or I love the world. Now I was part of the world. It’s like all my life I’d failed to take advantage of my membership in a family, or to avail myself of some vast resource that was right there for me, if only I could get out of myself, or stop thinking of myself as separate from it. I hoped it would last—it seemed too good to last. It all seemed too good to be true.