Wednesday, June 20, 2007

laundry day

"It is incumbent upon us to understand everything in the universe."



I am sitting in the laundromat, listening to the same song over and over on my head phones.

Thinking about poverty, about how we all experience poverty in different ways. There is a man sleeping in the corner, I can see him in my peripheral vision; I have been watching him. The air around him is viscous, thick with the smell of alcohol and sniff. It is leaking from his pores, travelling with his blood, fuelling him for another day... another kind of sunset, a different kind of dawn.

When people walk by he opens his eyes and pretends that he is not sleeping. I watch him struggle to be comfortable in his chair, in his skin.

A woman walks in, alone, with ten or so garbage bags overflowing with laundry, huge sunglasses covering her face. She is anonymous, she keeps her head down. She reaches into her bags and pulls out her life, mechanical and grey, and I have to look away.

And my clothes spin and spiral beside a child whose mother is talking quietly on a cell phone. The child rests languidly on a chair, hypnotised by the humming lullaby of a world of machines.

Outside a man kicks a peice of garbage down the sidewalk, something that I remember doing when I was a child. His face is hidden by a hood, his own defense against the assault of a bitter winter wind. He too is alone.

There is a werewolf, a shapeshifter, at the pinball machine. His face is scarlet with frustration as he shouts at the glass in front of him.

Fuckin thing, he says, over and over again. In his mind someone is taking the one thing that he has left.


I think about a friend of mine who sits in her big house near the river, wishing that she was somewhere else, anywhere else. I think about her children, tucked snug into their beds by a mother and a father, surrounded, like this child beside me, by machines. I think about my own children.

The machines hum and help us sleep; without them there is the noise of love, we can hear our own hearts beat. Too much blood, we think, and feel faint. Flesh and tissue, liquid and energy. This is too real.

Poverty. We are all impoverished. Right now I am deprived of touch that I am craving, and the man in the corner is waiting for sleep. The woman in the sunglasses seeks invisibility and my friend, in the middle of all the noise, is praying for silence.

I dig into my pockets for another quarter.

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