On the opposite corner, four guys guard the liquor store with their leisure. That is their leisure and this is mine: a paperback book I bought, the first I’ve bought in ages. I took a pay cut, and stopped buying books.
On one corner I have a green bottle of water, two clear glasses, coffee in a teacup, and a big, wide bowl of granola and white yogurt and uneaten berries.
One man has an office chair, with a star base with wheels, and an orange seat. The other has a black plastic folding chair. The others stand.
I never go to the neighborhood liquor stores, with their plastic barriers ,where the alcohol lives behind, like a jail visiting room. They should have telephones. I always go to liquor stores in fancier parts of town. I want to see the wine, choose one based on my whim combination of nationality (French, Italian, or Chilean), signs that declare quality in a number (96!) or vocabulary (cherry, “with red meat,” though I don’t eat any kind of meat).
People who want to be here: young white people, hustlers of all sorts, artists who were so lonely where they came from, and learn a new a different loneliness here, those who came her to be less stuck in the jobs that will have them, because there is American money to soothe the lack of beaches and soil and fruit trees.
People who don’t want to be here: people from here, people tired.
I can’t hear them, but they sit with knees out and lean in. A ball cap. Jackets. Sweatpants. An umbrella hung from the frame of the metal doors that pull down at night. The sign above them says LIQUOR, vertically, red, and below the R it says WINE, only as wide as the R. A sign in the window: New York Lottery, with a rainbow coming out of New York.
He raises a hand, he points. She looks at faces, walks on by.
The other corner is a pharmacy, which is closed today, its grill-grate down.
The other corner is a deli, a bodega, whatever, a crummy one I must have gone into at some point, looking for Ritz crackers or plain M & Ms. I don’t remember. The better bodegas have cats, and don’t smell like fish or musty.
The bus comes, a little girl with pigtails wearing a penguin t-shirt holds her dad’s hand as they get off.
Someone carries an orange bag of laundry on his shoulder.
The brick wall I look at is cream brick, red brick arches, set in and hung like teeth, column, stone lintels, stone pale against the red brick, going up, black fire escape bones, curly iron Juliet balconies, air conditioner boxes, brickwork that makes slats, and all of it behind a stern black dumpster, silver cars, a green metal post crowned with a sign, MONDAY THURSDAY 8:30 am-11am. A thick red line, arrows at each end. I never see these. I don’t park.
A man sweeps the sidewalk trash into the gutter with a bright blue broom.
The merchandise in the bodega window is blasted so, so pale, sickly, even in this city where direct sunlight is more craved than room to stretch.
A stocky white blonde woman with a white dog. Men in strictly worker shoes: brown, black, meaningless.
Men with coverings over their enormous hair, like great eggs they are hosting, or enormous alien brains.
The fronts of our buildings are detailed here: painted top edges that make them taller, with wheat or fleur-de-lis or or oak leaves or banners draped printed in them, stripes made by brick tones. Their sides, if you ever see them, are dead plain. No one, here, knows how to use the sides of things because the sides are pressed to the next, almost all the time.
The rain, the weekend being almost over, you live around here? The chill. Long time?