Once years ago while strolling down a street in New York, I chanced upon a woman on the sidewalk next to a building, leaning back on the wall’s bricks; squatting, she was, on a threadbare Persian rug, a grab of plastic bags by her side, each stuffed with clothes, a shoe inching out of one.
She glared at passers-by, and me, but most of us ignored her, concern clearly elsewhere.
I walked by slowly as I dared and glanced at her eyes, sly as eels, her mouth an almost metaphor of sound. I passed by, then couldn’t resist a quick peek back…and saw her turn toward me as if she knew my glance even before I turned back my head, and saw her own glance, coy enough to finesse any god, yet almost seductive, or so it seemed.
I blushed, I think, but before I could move on, I noticed that she had sniggled out from her snuggled bags a longish length of cord and begin to finger it, guided by some ephemeral thought, into a stringed puzzle, complicated and thick as thighs.
But that fleeting moment quickly vanished as I watched, and, unhurried as a nun’s bed, she rose, picked up her Persian rug, her tongue click-clacking as she gathered her treasured bags, then she paused, glanced back at me and with a flourish and a grin—I swear it!—slowly flipped the bird at me, then walked off, her feet flapping with the pride of a duck’s odd walk.