She wore a red sweatshirt and a bright turquoise knit cap, and rested comfortably on several black garbage bags of what I assumed was her stuff. She sat against a giant billboard under a giant headline that said something about “access your inner power.” Large white-framed Jackie O sunglasses hid her eyes.
She was dirty, completely relaxed, and I wanted her photograph.
She jumped up as I walked over to ask her permission. Did I need help, (she asked) or directions, or someone to hold the elevator door for me? Maybe she is fifty or sixty, no matter, she is close to my age, but more comfortable in her own skin than I am in mine.
She was waiting, (she said), patiently (I noticed), for the rush of people to slow down so she can get on the elevator, but the rush never slows down at the 74th Street/Roosevelt Avenue subway station, never, not at any time of day or night. Everyone is always rushing, pushing their way in front of old people and the handicapped, the disabled (she said). See, that man with the cane (I did)? Like him—they don’t help him. She wasn’t feeling that great, sinus problems you know, but maybe another time, when she was feeling better, I could take her picture. She had one tooth, and I liked her smile.
(jackson heights, queens, ny)