The line of her mouth is firm; it bears the memory of having flowed, beautifully, and still contrives to a terse pen-and-ink prettiness which is never quite to disappear.
The figure is squat, white-bearded and -mustachioed, as Santa Claus might be were he crossed with The Absent-Minded Professor. The hands, well-manicured, are spread: a crumbled crust of bread is offered to the darting beak which pursues it from his forearm, to another from his thigh, a third from his lap. Passersby stare: “The pigeon man,” they whisper. He goes on, gently smiling, offering the food, offering himself. The birds take what they want and give rapture in return.
They stand, fingers brushing, sharing the gentle intimacies of unexamined love, of newly discovered and -discovering lovers.
The eyes are wide, and starkly blue. They open into fright, balanced on a pale yellow tremor which flutters across the iris.
Standing before the gravestone of someone not-quite known, the wind whipping at his face, at his hair, tossing it into a frenzy, whipping the cloth of his coat behind him like a tail springing from between his legs. He stands there and lets the tears come, little tears, little sighs against the lashes of the wind.
She is an old woman. She smokes Camels and carries the Farmer’s Almanac. Thin and long, clad in a green chiffon party dress, yellow mary-janes, a triple strand of paste pearls; hair in pins, an artificial daisy by her ear... She stands, reflecting fantasies in the mirror of Cartier’s window.
Her eyes catch the full moon and gleam its chaste and icy mystery from them.
They watch each other from opposite benches: a young girl, barely sixteen, her bubble-gum adolescence careless and coy, blond-curled and red-nailed; a somber Quixote, gray crew-cutted, blue-suited, bow-tied, patient, tacit, smiling. They look at each other curiously, wondering, wondering: Should they meet?
Her hands have lost the battle for Youth to Time, while her face has assumed the lineaments which supersede softness and precede slackness.
She is a little girl, fourteen perhaps, with a small, evocative mouth that teases a half-smile. All very simple: the floss hair, muted in its brownness, the folded hands and undecorated eyes that look very, very far away.
Getting lost in an East Side World, the gleam, the refraction of images in black and low-cut creme. Ice-cube rhythms, glass meeting glass, smile meeting white-frost lips. Chic, cool, distinguished: polished like zircons in a silver-plated setting.
These are the treasures of youth: a red, white and blue belt with an Uncle Sam buckle on it; a bagatelle-in-plastic ring rattling on the middle finger. Will they be put away, saved, to look back upon and savor; or lost, even from memory, to disappear with the youth that made them precious.
She is small, but not fragile-looking, with eyes from a romance novel and a slight face draped and circled by misbehaving black falls. She looks gentle and soft, but there is a sense of illusion surrounding that look: The smile is missing, there is resolute sadness behind the eyes.
He stretches across the seat, scratching his chapped hands against the red face; his legs extended, gnarled, winter-white, swollen and brittled by cold. Amid the snowflakes, he sleeps.
Black-garbed, swan-necked, spare as a sapling in its first winter. A petulant profile, the dark eyes filled with half a tear and half a dream, half empty and half full.
They are, almost all, over forty. The suits should have been out of style twenty years before, but they are worn as proudly as the mismatched ties and white socks, the toupees or delicately combed thinning hair.
They stand in a series of corners and edges, no pairs, many clusters, many units, wooing women wearing the prom dresses they first wore twenty years ago.
She sleeps with a pout on her face; as though resentful at being denied the realm of her waking senses, she has chosen to brood to her subconscious.
His face, though brushed in Renoir contours, lets through the capacity for harshness impressed behind the Impression.
Evan Guilford-Blake’s prose and poetry have appeared in numerous print and online journals, as well as in several anthologies, and won 12 contests. He has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He has work in forthcoming issues of South Florida Arts Journal and The Helix. Noir(ish), his first novel, was recently published by Penguin’s Dutton/Guilt Edged Mysteries imprint. Also a playwright, more than 40 of his plays have been produced; collectively, they have won 39 playwriting competitions. Eighteen are published. He and his wife (and inspiration), Roxanna, a healthcare writer and jewelry designer, live in the Atlanta area. More information is at www.guilford-blake.com/evan.
Bay Laurel / Volume 2, Issue 1 / Spring 2013