From the café in which I sit, surrounded by businessmen in crisp white shirts, I can see a tall black building, windows like a honey comb. A square block of six windows by ten windows is taped in brown paper, illuminated in morning sun. They are painting the windowsills, men on a swinging ledge. I mistook them for washers, but they are painting the windowsills, turning black frames to white, one small section at a time, lightening the grid. They will brighten the building. They have many to go. That’s all right; they’ll get there.
I will spend my days writing, turning sentences until they click, until I make something that will make something. This used to be my hope; now it’s my promise.
Did you ever see someone carry flowers on the subway, juggling briefcase and blossoms? Upside down carnations held by their stems? Daffodils in a bicycle’s handlebars? Marigolds cupped by a grocery bag? Roses in a white embrace, a paper cone? Did you wonder where they were going?
One summer I was a window painter. I was working at the arts school, doing anything they asked to pay for my ballet classes. I mopped the linoleum, washed the mirrors in the studios, scrubbed clay from tabletops, and when they said, Let’s do something about that big plate window in front; let’s advertise the shows. Can you write backwards? I said that I could. I was fourteen. The prima ballerina’s partner, a man she married, stood outside on the street and shook his head when I got the letters wrong, turned his hand in a circle as if stirring for S. S was tricky.
I write forwards but I can do backwards too. Also upside down. Also just about anything. That's right.
I feel I am building—-helping to build—-many things. Turning sentences until they click, turning the black frames white one window at a time, my dear. One window at a time.