On The Way
Previously Published in Downtown Brooklyn, Number 14

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On the Way

 

People always walk slower when they’re with someone. Maybe they want to keep up with the other person or maybe life just doesn’t seem so urgent when you’re holding somebody’s hand or maybe just maybe they all don’t care that I have to be somewhere, I have no one walking behind me to wait for, I’m not holding anyone’s hand and life is urgent, for God’s sake, urgent as a swollen ambulance.

 

I’m behind two people on Seventh Ave. Grasping each other’s knuckles, they promenade their way slowly, holding up a line of people ten deep. We’re all creeping up behind them, waiting for an opening on the right or the left, tailgating on foot until the corner, where we can swoop around from all sides, pass on the right, sideswipe until the subway station, get to that B train, get past the couple with the whitest white knuckles.

 

People always walk slower when they’re with someone. Their regard for others slides into the sewer grates, they lose themselves in being half of two, they have time for window shopping and Mrs. Fields cookies on Sixth. They look around at the sky like something could come falling out of it, walking the slow walk, swinging to the rhythm of the cabbies and the hot dogs and the crowded crosswalks while others clamor to get to wherever they can without the hold up of a happy couple on the cynical sidewalks of the city.

 

I’m continuing my pilgrimage to that B train. I’m counting the cracks in the sidewalk quickly. I’m cursing the halves of that couple. At the crosswalk, I stop, see two people running together, Reeboks pounding the pavement like dough.