Friday, June 29, 2007

Up River

It’s been about a year since I last wrote about riding my bike to work. I still do it occasionally (the gym at school seems to give me a more focused exercise, but it doesn’t smell as nice and it certainly doesn’t look as appealing). Not much has changed. I’ve lost ten pounds. The pavements have been repaved. The sounds are the same: still female cardinals in their beautiful shade of burnt orange evoking red like the fire fighting helicopter skimming along above me, they look and sound nice against the hypnotic green reflected all around which is definitely one of God’s best colors.

Today as I was sniffing at the sea breeze along the Hudson which was flowing backwards with the tide, I noticed that there are a lot more driftwood sculptures sprouting along the banks. Smooth branches tied with twine into strange trees, like Japanese etchings brought into the third dimension, aching for the blue sky. I saw a lot more old men this time too: a leathery European in a royal blue Speedo worshiping the Sun god, a Chinese who made even his bicycle look crooked with his twisted awkward stance, a Black man who made fishing look like a good way to go. There were people from the parks department in blue t-shirts spread out like ants with nice ankle-length grabbers picking at the trash from last weekends picnics and baby showers. I saw two other men walking side by side each with a leather-bound book in their hands helping each other to grow in their Christian lives.

There were two people stretched out under a tree taking in the view at around West Harlem, the female part of them still under the blanket. They made me nostalgic for the invisibility they seemed to possess like Ralph Ellison – but I know that is a false dream: camping on the Hudson with no where to go like Huckleberry Finn. The tower of Riverside Church has not changed, it is still standing sentry, a witness, to the Hess-ian barges and the Nigerian oil they pour passing slowly by. But I know that steeple better now that I’ve sat silent as a Quaker a few times in its very top listening to it groan like a gothic submarine pointing straight up.

There were only two urine-soaked men with all their belongings carefully stacked on wheels of different sounds in the Bat Cave at 128rd street – there used to be more. But the man who sleeps under the bridge at Dyckman Street was still there, cautiously preparing his shopping cart for a run across traffic toward the refuge he shares with the pigeons which can if one is startled make you think of Edgar Allen Poe.

My bike was humming or the world was humming; either way I heard the noise.
Photo by BJ Ramsay


Blogger Meredith said...

The photo of the female cardinal is lovely. The pieces of driftwood sound like they are too! I could use a nice one for a birthday gift someday!! MIL

8:50 PM  

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