Nov. 2, 1998
Central Park Imitation Exercise
On the morning of the third day of fall, when the flowers were still heaped high with Tuesday’s dew but the sky itself was dry, we slipped on our jackets and skipped along the scattered path of Starbuck’s coffee shop and headed to our favorite outside table. There we saw:
Emerald bushes emerging from the damp soil, their musical faces glistening like the smooth tunes of dolphin backs.
A songbird on the chocolate branch of a tree skipping to the edge of the wind and whistling to a squirrel in the face.
Three elderly women trying to coax a little girl to accompany her mom on a bicycle ride down a short but steep hill.
Four boys in green baseball jerseys throwing pennies at each other.
Seven dogs without water.
Twelve fire hydrants without splatter.
Two men grooving to the radio in a jeep parked outside McDonalds.
A butterfly pleasantly winking in the sunlight.
A baby absently scraping the mud and giggling.
A mother with her back turned.
Empty tables labeled with spilled mocha.
A father saying to his little boy who was frightened almost to tears by the exaggerated face of the worker, "The girl is very happy, she saw music in your eyes."
Most of the shop’s indoor tables occupied.
A pretty girl in a short, green skirt shaking her hips as she danced past three breathless boys.
"Bill and Monica" finger-written on a foggy window. "Bill and Hillary" carved in mud. Some huddled people with jokes on their faces.
Two wrinkled men playing, and six women supervising, a chess match.
The Chuck-E-Cheese across the street nearly empty of children but brimful of show tunes.
A man over there on the hood of his car reading, through stained-glass eyes, The Tragedy of King Lear.
A group of auto mechanics repairing an old car in a gas station garage.
A woman dropping the latte she was trying to sip, the cup rolling down her legs and exposing hidden vulgarities.
A little boy being dragged out of the shop, past a broken coffee maker, rubbing his butt and saying, "Mommy, you really hurt me."
Jazz stories spilling across tables and faces and conversations. A teenage girl catching the meaning with her hips.
Mint blades of grass under trees and along the shaded path.
Things like chocolate cigars nosing through a shelf full of coffee beans.
A footprint in a puddle of emerald-tinted grease far removed from where any automobiles usually park.
Hand paintings on a recently waxed window.
Two deaf people brushing musical notes across the air with their winged fingers.
A plump old man saying hello to them with a smile and nod.
Many crinkled flowers telling each other how people have changed.
One shimmering emerald from a promise ring lying half-buried in a pile of glass.
A crinkled woman leaning on a cane, savoring the flavor of her hot coco.
A weeping shadow.
A toddler, very bright and happy, slowly wading though the tears of the shadow.