Some tiny creature, mad with wrath,

Is coming nearer on the path.

--Edward Gorey

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. Outlying Islands

Writer, lawyer, cyclist, rock climber, wanderer of dark residential streets, friend.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Craig Street and Rain

On Craig Street, I waited for the bus in the rain. The edge of my umbrella, my briefcase behind my thighs, and the shoulders above it leaned back into the parsimonious shelter of a boutique's plateglass window and the portico leanly lcantilevered above it. Only the darkness was bracing on this occasion of improbable warming; the evening air and even the rain warmed and comforted. Inside my oversized raincoat, I swam silently in imperceptible loops, a fish in an unlit acquarium brushing fins gently to glass like fingers gracing a lover's cheek in silence and satiety.

Into my acquarium vista, Out There, ambled an old Beatnick Van Winkle, a dissonant figure hiding under a beret pulled down tight and level, in a black jacket of wool or felt, salty beard neatly groomed close to his cheeks, his trousers hiked high enough to reveal more of his wasted, flat posterior than anyone needed to see. Indifferent to the rain, he paused not three feet in front of me, eyes cast far down Craig toward the Carnegie, as though hypnotized by the dance of red and white light, the sizzle of each car's approach and the sibilant diminuendo of its retreat. He wore anachoristic glasses of the sort favored by Henry Kissinger, and his neck telescoped forward myopically.

He raised his hands to his face in a gesture as timless as it was intimate, and pulled from a steaming chaos of wax paper with fingers like talons a thick round of something pinkly moist, perhaps ham. His fingers held the slice up before his eyes as though for inspection, though he remained transfixed by the stretch of road that lay before him. I felt a twinge of shame, inadvertant, if not wholly innocent, voyeur chastened by moral hesitation rather than discovery. The ham sagged in caternary folds around his thick fingers, surrending its shape to gravity and its warmth to the night, until he approved its assumed shape and, leaning his head back like a supplicant, accordianed the steaming meat into his mouth, along with its parcels of night and rain and winter archly resplendant in its day of remission. Even God rested.

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