While hopeless men who never got over hope wander streets without searching for jobs, and loveless men who never got over love wander streets without looking for love, in the neighborhood everybody seems to be cutting their lawn in half top-wise. This causes a scent with no other name to rise into the air, nose-height exactly, tempting allergic hysteria, but for the god-blessed who have none, creating an aura almost unconsidered in the advanced stages of life past twelve.
There are, of course, workers here.
People with compliant and noncompliant mowers, tools rusted in hibernating sheds, and pliant fingers whose smallest grooves will carry red stains for a week. Workers who, without the dignity of minimum wage, a suited gentleman who nods as they clock in on time, or a guaranteed hour to abandon labor in favor of rushing off to television and love-making, nonetheless emerge commuteless into private yards, wearing obscenely practical shorts and sexless visors.
They adore the utter closeness of an outdoors they had barely remembered owning on the other side of their doors–without, of course, a single wall…color rosing and flexing not from an artist’s fingers, like Michelangelo’s hands of God and man tentatively touching, but from the contact of a stem or branch blooming out of green and tan.
I have nothing to do with any of this, just stumbling by, a person without land stretching half-tired legs and lifting eyes from a week of logging in and out, reckless phone calls and mechanical appointments measured strangely in minutes. It’s rising past 80, a lot of people aren’t home, blackberry vines spill through short fences, I keep going despite a slight tendonitis, looking for what it is I might be looking for.
Twenty-first and Yesler, a dental clinic, to 23rd & Jackson, an errand in a drug store, 23rd to Judkins, Judkins up east to Martin Luther King Junior Street and down over north to a park with pathways weaving between playgrounds and knolls of grass, tricyclists and pale-legged women reading novels in black bikinis.
King Junior Street down slowly back to South Washington, and South Washington, which is an entirely insignificant street on which it is therefore possible to reside, brings me to Main, then 23rd again, where there is, what else, a coffee shop decked with crazy blue and yellow jazz murals and newspapers fronted with citizens dancing.
For three dollars, I take a seat and take back a few old addictions, noticing how dark it is despite tall columns of well-intended windows, and how the smell of roast coffee compares poorly to that of completely uncooked grass, and how the air inside is completely even, balanced and lifeless without the June breeze, sporadic and soothing…