She gives things


The bench I am sitting on is missing two important slabs, so my position is pushed forward and up, as though I am attempting to stop each person who passes and hand them a piece of paper. I don't actually want to talk to anybody or see anything. There are stupid funny kids climbing all over each other on the fountain and the swoosh squeal swoosh swoosh squeal swoosh of traffic in front of me.

I am staring into the smallest window on the fifth floor of the apartment building across the street. It is a bathroom window in the apartment that the lady lives in. I have been staring into it for two hours. She is home. Earlier the clouds poked the sun into a corner and one stream of light hit the right spot. I could see the shadow of a woman: lifting things, rubbing and brushing.

I came here and set up my fort on this bench. My pile of pants and newsprint is a puddle of information designed to force people to look away. I don't need more stuff. The lady is a good woman; she gives things. I met her at the shop when she brought in a box of clothes, plates, and the shoes I grabbed after she left. I don't know why those tiny feet had these massive shoes, but they feel good as I walk. They are man shoes. Men's shoes. They are hers but I wear them.

I didn't follow just to follow – I'm not one of those guys. I wanted to come here and run into her, somehow, walking in the park or past her front door. I have had some time and wrote a song for her, I sing -

Oh hi? How have you been? I'm from the news, I'm here to thank you for these shoes, they fit, it's kismet, I'm so glad you came in, can you talk with me, walk with me? Are you alone? Can we be together?

I could tell her about the shop and how I'm different from the other guys but I know she knows. I know she could tell when she smiled and said, "Hello. Can I have a receipt for my taxes?" She knows what I would appreciate. The lady is a good woman. She gives things and smiles.

I could tell her about the plane that swoops in and looks as though it will crash into her building and how I imagine her body falling to the ground and how I will dart across traffic to try to save her and she is already dying on the pavement and I cradle her head and she says, "No, no words. Just one last –" and she dies right there sputtering and I kiss her anyway, with tongue and unashamed and in love.

I could tell her about living in the back of the shop and how there is no heat sometimes and those guys make me so angry when they wake me up by banging the back door and trying to get in and how I keep warm by thinking about her smile and mouth and teeth – they go down my neck and chest and into the pants and she raises her head as if to say I'm scared and I push her head gently back down and say It's all right, my darling and we've done this a million times.

Now it's getting too dark and stupid funny kids are being picked up by horrible fat monster mothers and my pants are wet and there's a long walk in her massive shoes ahead. If she leans out the window, she will smile when she sees me, she will know why I'm here, she loves me, loves me. Her teeth are like white mountains I will climb.

Last night I went to the bar down the street thinking she would meet me and the man at the door said "You're going to have to move it buddy," and I cried as I kicked his shiny teeth in.


- Salem Collo-Julin