Andy Fitch

from 60 Morning Walks



Fearing bronchitis I slept through the alarm and didn’t get out until 9:15. From the courtyard sparrows whistled on either side. The day felt complete, a little tiring even. A police officer propped against a red door frowned when my glance made him self-conscious. It turns out the building east of mine’s a corrections facility. I’d always thought it was a school.

Sudsy water along the curb made Fifth Ave. expansive and sensual. Bedrooms projected a broadcaster’s voice. I can’t remember crossing commuter tracks. Along the James Weldon Johnson Homes a black woman pointed at a white man’s chest: You should have attended the meeting I assigned! Audiocassette tape dangled from branches. Somebody called to a seventh-floor window I’m optimistic cause they said come back on Monday. Cars proclaimed themselves Trinidadian with red-and-white-striped everything. Sparrows guarding slices of toast stayed surprisingly adept at repulsing pigeons. A dirtbike abandoned next to boxes spun its wheels.

From 125th St. people on train platforms looked glamorous and made of vapor. Asians assessed a storefront with all its wiring exposed. A woman with crutches propped herself to wait for the 101. Groups stood outside delis now that it was warm. The Bus Stop Kitchenette was packed—the diner exhaust smell made me think of families.

Pink and beige balloons had become entwined to the back of a building called TRICHA 6. Within a block the streets turned barren. Spotting stuffed animals restored my inner strength. Both contact lenses began to flutter. When loud teens approached I stared ahead with a sense of purpose. A stream poured from one eye. I feigned wiping a nostril, just to somehow gesture, then lunged bizarrely towards them as they passed.

Amidst the Abraham Lincoln Homes a statue caressed a rising black boy’s cheek. Cars veered around garbage cans wedged into potholes. Cigarettes lined the curb: McGeorge or something. A Peter Pan bus sped by en route to Boston and I remembered being sad to leave the city like this.

Where the Madison Avenue Bridge began a crushed grape jelly jar spread across pavement. I’d ascended out among tan projects. Industrial currents brought on a headache, made me feel like the product of furious whittling. When I bent I found photographs of Bill Clinton. He looked angelic. An old guy in a Yankees cap biked around construction barrels. Demolished cars below had prices chalked across dashboards.

On the trip back to Manhattan I sensed that from one New York bridge you can always see others. A man slowed, saluted, said How you feeling chief? Wondering if Bronx people are extra friendly I made a Cuban jogger frown wishing her hello. My jacket pocket swelled and grazed a taut kid’s thigh. An older Puerto Rican peddled down Madison at just my pace. His bicycle gears creaked. The harmony with my mood and general worldview was exquisite. Beside people in wheelchairs waiting for busses a woman chewed on lottery printouts. A big white Italianate house’s gingerbread drew me west. Someone around forty leaned from his van to engage a boy dropping carpet at the curb. Two guys alternated squats on a Soloflex machine. They knew everybody.

The occasional white person crossing Lenox looked relieved to have me to fixate on. A drunken blonde in drag said Honey don’t tell me you don’t have a quarter. Rice covered sidewalk but there wasn’t any church. An abandoned wheelchair blew against trash. A Jewish woman with a chihuahua in her bag asked if we were at all close to Columbus. The dog crouched (quiet and attentive).

Around 112th a Dominican man got lost imagining an argument. His voice kept coming as the distance grew between us. Beneath scaffolds I dodged dust clouds as debris hit dumpsters. By then it had to be about fifty degrees.


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