Reflections. Summer evening

Gosia Wozniacka Reflections

Walk. When the sun’s strength dims and shadows start to fall on homes and sidewalks. Walk down, straight down your street, your broken sidewalk, turn without thinking, Van Ness, Elizabeth, Fulton, Dudley. Walk. Past overgrown alleyways, past nopale bushes with tiny red fruit that cut your hands when you tried to steal them (someone once said, ‘be brave when picking cactus’), past children riding beat up bikes, skinny stray cats of every color, boys playing basketball inside a locked schoolhouse yard. A crumpled dollar bill to the street vendor, corn on the cob con mayonesa, queso y chile. Walk. Watch old men watering yellowed lawns as if nothing else awaited them, cholos in wifebeaters smoking on front stoops, women pushing strollers bulging with grocery bags and no children… Pit bulls bored, straining behind chain link fences, a bum with long unwashed hair swaying, absent. And always, a man or woman hidden in the bushes of a side porch, completely alone, suddenly emerging to greet you. Someone down the street singing. Walk, under trees flowering pink and white, sculptures of frayed palm leaves. The air stifling still, pressed against your skin like a warm bath. Walk until night envelops you, hints of wind brushing past the eyes of lit windows, crickets keen on their song. Listen to the train cutting diagonal across the neighborhood, its shrill call, its swish and lulling – walk, until you can walk no more, paused by the endless train tracks.

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