Friday, November 08, 2013

Strange scenes in the subway. In a corridor at Bryant Park, a large black woman, with the bearing of a weightlifter, selling plastic knickknacks. On the other side, farther down: a beggar mother in rags, nursing. The vendor was working over her mark, a short, Hispanic man. “You want yo-yo? You want yo-yo? You want yo-yo?” she taunted, illustrating with brusque tosses of the toy. “You wanna jacka lan’ern?”

The baby spat out its mother’s nipple and cried. There it was: big, brown, glistening in the sick, fluorescent light.

A few days later I got on the 7 after work, found a corner seat where I hoped to rest my head against the glass. A woman walked up and politely asked if she could have the inside seat. Sure, I said. Of course. She sat down, turned away, and promptly began to sob. She’d sniffle and snort sometimes, like criers do—making funny sounds in the midst of grief. Then she’d start again. Finally around Broadway-Lafayette she stopped.

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