tuesday on Powell

The sun is in the east, backlighting the slender blond haired woman in ponytail cutoff jeans a lightweight jacket over her torso. One leg is bent a the knee, the other straight. She dangles a cigarette from her right hand. A man with a bicycle stands a few feet from, and to the south, of her. The man sits motionless astride the bike, his broad back covered in a black t-shirt, wearing jeans, head bald, skin sun-browned or brown-brown.

As I near them, she bends. I think she is putting out her cigarette, but she is picking something up off the ground. Pennies. And, as I pass, she says, “I’m going to need some luck today.” Or did she say, “everyone needs some luck”?

She might have been a prostitute. Certainly there are those who would make that assumption. But what does that say about who she is really, or even what she is? Her story, her existence is so long and so deep, I can’t say anything about it. I can only see this moment, when she bent from the waist and her ponytail fell down along her arm and the sun lit it up and lit up the line of her forearm as sweetly as a sun ever kissed anyone.

Covert Purple

You drop that little piece of something out the window of the car, covertly, as if to hide it from the driver or anyone who might be watching. As if I were an undercover bicycle cop and the fine for littering might suddenly be enforced and the price too much to pay, but the risk is one you’ll take, carefully.

What impels you to decide that this bit, this small strip of purple nothing, should flutter to the street here instead of to the floor of the car in which you are a passenger?

What bird will find something other than death by eating it? Why should I, or this world, this earth, this street be less important than the interior of that car?

I know nothing about you. Why you were so furtive when you dropped that bit. It might have been a bandaid, or a purple strip of paper with a secret inscribed. You’ve been kidnapped and you are leaving a trail in the desperate hope that someone will follow and find you. You work for the CIA, you’re a spy and you thought I was your contact. The signal conveyed, I should go to the drop site and pick up the latest code, I will decipher the message, uncover betrayal.

I think of this too late. You’re already far down the road. I’ll never be able to give you a sign, to let you know that I am not your confederate. It was a dropped signal in the dark anyway. One you never expected to complete.