I have sometimes, recently, had occasion to walk late at night.  What I have seen is the changing of the seasons.  Things at night are slow enough to notice the signs.  Before long it will be the Holidays.  For now I note that the leaves fall one by one on these windy nights and by morning have produced more for the gutters and the public walking spaces.  I am sometimes there to see it.

I take note that the world is far from perfect.  When I walk late at night I see the people sleeping in the doorways of defunct buildings from the '60s, buildings with floor-to-ceiling window panes framed in aluminum.  The empty old buildings are heartless at night.  The panes of glass look black.   No one cares about the old ideas or the old movements.  No one remembers the dedications that were photographed when the buildings were new.  Everyone walks right by.  The signs of the sellers or agents for the sellers remain in place through the years just in case someone has good ideas for an old building.   But their inset entry porches make clean mattresses for the poor who must sleep there.  This is the world I live in.  It is better seen after dark.

I have noticed one woman in particular.  When she sleeps, she sleeps outside.  But this is a large city.  So she sleeps in a doorway.  Doorways are locked at night.  Nobody goes there.  This is her place.  She rolls herself up tightly.  You know her by her bare feet.  Even among the homeless which one usually sees, no one sleeps like this.  She assumes no blanket.  She wears the clothes at night which she wears in the day.  She wears the same thing everyday.  The clothes by now are dark with filth.  You know her by her outfit.  But most of all you know her by her bare feet.  She rolls up against the left side of the entry, against the narrow window glass.  It is she; these are her bare feet with blackened soles.  When she rises she rises to no affair --  no bathing, no brushing the hair, no adding no tying the shoes to walk in.  Walking is the essential movement of a life.  She walks here, in this big city.  But there are no shoes.  She feasts when she feasts.  Oh yes she asks for money.  She is partly young.  You know what I mean.  Short blond hair.  Can't be bothered about anything.  Shoes don't matter.  Her blankets can't be found, even in a city where they exist and are offered.  Apparently she has never accepted what she has been offered.  Everyone here asks for money, not for food.  This is the way of life in a big city.  Even a big city sleeps after dark. Signed G. E. Claire.  All rights reserved by the author.  Copyright 2011 by G. E. Claire.
 


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    Author

    G. Claire is a descendant of Welsh Immigrants who came to California during the time of "the Great Excitement," also known as the Gold Rush.  She is, in addition, a descendant of young Mayflower passenger Mary Allerton and of Thomas Cushman, an Elder of the Plymouth Church.  The author is proud to be descended from Silvanus Brown, a member of that most notorious group of Vermont mobsters known as The Green Mountain boys.

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