Friday, April 28, 2017

Pink Umbrella

In the narrow parking lot between the buildings
By the dumpsters
He was transferring his possessions
from one baby stroller into
a much larger one, moving
with the infuriating slowness
of the severely strung out.
He removed his baseball cap to reveal
a head of thinning hair, through which
his raw, scabby scalp was painfully visible.
He kept putting on and removing a pair
of hot pink sunglasses with graffiti scribbled
on the arms. His own arms were skinny,
covered in sores. He kept picking at
a huge red gash on his neck.
I told him he needed to move on,
and when he realized I wasn’t going to be
a dick about it, he asked me what
St. Anthony was the patron saint of.
I said I thought it was lost things, or people,
or something. He seemed skeptical.
Took out a rosary with a tiny plaque
of St. Anthony on the end, and took out a knife
and tried closing one of the metal links.
He mentioned he was from Philly,
and I said yeah me too, so we talked about that for a while
and then he segued into the Masons,
how the Shroud of Turin was actually an impression
of Jacque de Molay, the last Grand Master of the
Knights of Templar, then he talks about
vibrations, the moving of the stones of
the Egyptian pyramids, and how he himself
once was able, before he was so, in his words,
“consistently inebriated,” back before he lost
his house and his son, how he was able
to create manifestations, as he called them,
though when I asked him to elaborate
his descriptions grew increasingly vague,
talking about how in the beginning was the vowel,
absent in the Hebrew alphabet because of its
being a manifestation of the infinite
and therefore unable to be written,
and then came the consonants, to set limits,
to create order and structure and try
to contain the infinite. He intones the word
JWH over and over, so I can get a sense of how
the sounds begin in the throat and resonate
up through the head, and all the while he’s
scratching and picking and poking himself
with the knife, and rearranging all his possessions
on the baby stroller, he keeps picking up a
broken pink umbrella, putting it down,
picking it up, wedging it between other
useless items, aluminum rods and plastic bags
and finally he’s ready to move on, and he pushes
the stroller away, talking the entire time, nonstop,
talking about the vowels and the consonants,
talking about these manifestations he used
to be able to make come about, though not since
all the troubles, everything changes, he says
sadly, except for one thing, and that's gratitude,
and with that he finally finds the perfect place
for his umbrella and wheels his stroller slowly

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