The Cutting

By | 29 June 2008

      Waiting for the bus down the road
from the Freemont Street Experience
is like enacting the first scene from
The Power and the Glory, with Tench
trudging to the port for his ether. You keep
forgetting why you're there, and look
at the sky a lot. Instead of vultures,
overhead are helicopters taking
people to the Grand Canyon –
but they've got as little to do with you.
      It's hot, a woman announces. She's
draped in black, and wears a woollen hat
stained around the edges
with copper curls poking out
near her ears. She looks at the
sun, like there's something about it
she can't believe, but also with
resignation – like there's many things in this world
she can't believe.
Damn, it's hot.
      Sweat meanders
past the dark roots of her hair
which is the first layer of hair
under the volumetric licks
that give her head a knobbly
appearance.
      She surveys the others – perhaps
to see if any response will be forthcoming –
perhaps not. When the bus arrives
there's a sheet of cardboard across the money
repository.
      It's broke, the driver says. Happy Christmas.
      He keeps repeating
this, as the passengers heave
their legs up the steps, clutching the
handrails; gripping their sides. A blank-faced
woman is the only swift mover
and she stumbles on
as though something has taken hold of her legs and
is working them for her; an event the rest of her
body can't register. She is marked
with yellow and purple, and holds a bottle –
clunk – against the metal rail of the seat.
The bus stops, and the woman
with the curls prepares to get up;
the movement of the top parts
of her body not producing
any corresponding reaction
in the lower parts, for a certain, delayed,
period of time.
Is this Charleston? a languid voice
from somewhere, enquires.
            No. This is Sahara.
The woman with the curls is
easing herself down the stairs at a
diagonal.
      Can I get to Charleston, on this bus?
No,
Charleston is back there. It runs
the same way as Sahara.
      Oh man, I'm tripping. The response comes,
after a while. The voice tilts
forward; indecision has caused it
to become stuck, at some indeterminate point.
            You want to get out here?
Here?
            Charleston is back there.
You stay on the bus and you're getting
further away from it.

Ride the bus all day if you want.
Ain't nothing to me.
      Man, I'm tripping.
The woman with the curls

makes her way across the empty lot. This
empty lot is like no other empty lot
you've seen, because it is all the empty lots
you've seen. Cézanne has been here
and made of it something permanent, like
in the museums. In cream, and red. Barbed wire
like tumbleweed throws
a hump-shaped shadow, a sliced resemblance
of more terra firma. Cracked
concrete. Broken bottles. So
beautiful you want to weep.

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