i assumed the position against the concrete pillar on a concrete sidewalk in a bad part of the city. it had been a long time since i had been in an urban setting but i was comfortable. my leg naturally crossed at the ankle i leaned back and took it all in. the rough boys and the bad girls walked by all with heads down and purpose or avoidance. one woman, who might have been sixty, was all legs with a black skirt six inches above the knee and carried herself hard. then a couple hurried past, both slumped the same way, like they were joined together at the hips. they looked older then they were, with ragged clothes and faces. it was raining. i felt at home with these people and the plaster falling from the buildings. i looked up at the four story walk-up to, windows covered with blankets, where no light penetrated. in others, the bare bulb. no one passed. was anyone up there?
i knew there were people there because i was once there. only time had removed me.
i was there curled up in a dirty blanket on a musty mattress on the floor, the filth all around me keeping me warm as the rain came down as raw as the loneliness within me. you didn't go out on days like this. even the rain seemed to attack, not give nourishment. i walked around the block, comfortable, hands deep in my pockets, head down but aware of anything that moved. i walked to the tracks and looked off as i had done thirty years ago in another city. and this time i wasn't looking for a way out. instead i looked into an understanding of time, how the past and the present are so close, how we still live with who we have been, who we are now, comfortable.