Saturday, January 5, 2013

Things Seen Recently While Out Running

A giant inflatable Santa Claus in front of a dilapidated house.  

A chow chow wandering among the figures of a crèche, wagging his tail. One of the wise men topples over.  

The day after Christmas a man stands outside his pale yellow house with a paint roller, painting over the words ‘ASSHOLE” written in huge red letters on each side of the house.  

Multicolored Christmas lights entwined around two white columns on a Dutch Colonial porch, steam venting from a brick wall, odor of fabric softener scenting the winter air.  

A middle-aged woman with blonde hair wearing a fur coat glides through a four-way stop in a black SUV just as I come running across. When I am inches from her window, she glances at me with a look of indifference.  

Frost on a bed of ivy.  

A thick layer of ice on the sidewalk, remnant of a garden hose left running.  

Black silhouette of a man walking on a yellow triangular sign against an opalescent sky in late December. The sign is a warning for disabled pedestrians. Yet the iconic man on the sign is walking robustly.  

The man gets down from the sign. He slides down the pole. He has no features. No nose, no eyes, no ears. He is simply a man walking. He is a sign. He is a sign of walking. He is a parody of walking. He is a flirtation with walking, an icon designed to catch the attention of drivers. People behind the wheels of their cars. Or motorcycle handlebars. Look out, the man says mutely in silhouette, there may be people crossing here whose bodies may have been compromised by age or injury or disease. But the man is momentarily gone. It is just a yellow sign. A yellow triangle. The man on the sign goes to the library to read a book. He reads a book of silhouettes. He reads a book of signs. He learns how to warn people. He learns how to deliver a clear message. He returns to the sign and climbs back up. He assumes his position, his left leg moving jauntily forward, his expressionless silhouette communicating a message as clearly as possible. Watch out. Pay attention. You are in a car. I am on a sign. Together we make a world. A world of warnings and signs. A world of attention and solicitation. Highways and maps. Incongruities and substitution and straw. Fickleness and treachery. Gladness and compassion. It’s all there. It’s all a sign. A big sign. A sign of sagas. A  body of law. Sunlight burning through mist creating opalescence and thaw.

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