Monday, September 21, 2020

Urgency of Breath Itself


The weekend’s, I make time.  I read my fifth Claude McCay novel this morning.  Yes, I’ve been a bit addicted.  This was much more quiet and mannered, set in Jamaica, the place of his birth.  Completely different from any other wok of his I’ve read, it also uniquely focused on a young woman.  There are so many hidden parts of Claude McCay’s life, his sexuality, his party membership, and certainly his West Indian identity, which one can glimpse from his fiction or his autobiography: “A Long Way From Home.” This is the first time in his work, beyond his early poem’s where Jamaica is the setting and Jamaican diction is unfurled in prose.


It’s good I was up early and finished it before 11:00AM.  By that time, we were on the road, heading to Manhattan.  We’d all promised the little one a day of doing what she wanted to, down in the metropolis.  All the way down I listened to early Toots and the Maytals, continuing on with an honorary mourning of the great apostle of upliftedness.  Ruth Bader Ginsberg has died too, jilting the perilous election into even steeper tilt.  The Checker Player in Chief’s faux-sagacious banning of Wechat goes into effect in less than twenty four hours, there are many glaring stars of concern in the immediate constellation but . . . ‘time’s tough’ and Toots Hibert was filling my soul with confident warmth, causing me to sing in a croaking voice, driving along the New York State Throughway. 


Crossing the George Washington Bridge on a sunny fall day and fortunately can still rob my breath straight out of my heart, my gizzard.  The river, the city, the traffic . . .  you can’t look off to the side more than for a glimpse or two if you’re driving and it still makes me flutter.  We got downtown and the Essex Street Municipal Parking is still in business, just like it was in 1991, allowing people to park for less than the cost of a limb.  Needing to pee one of those pees that has been repressed so long and so forcefully that it has reached an all-consuming, unrelenting primacy approximating the urgency of breath itself.  This must be exhaled.  “The black building across the street,” said the gent at the front ticket booth  I head off with my family trailing behind to the place where I’ve been told a public bathroom exists.

So many baubles now, to consider in my old haunt of the Lower East Side, traipsing up from Delancey on Norfolk Street.  Women who walk by majestically with my eyes inadvertently trailing, now arrested by trees, that I don’t recognize.  So, I walked beneath Black Locust and London Planes which I never knew for all those years I'd strolled around here.  And I do my best to shut up and let my daughters decide for themselves what is of interest and what Manhattan means for them.  Eventually, they ask questions. 




Saturday, 09/19/20

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