Once years ago while strolling down a street in New York, I chanced upon a woman sitting on the sidewalk next to a building, 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, including me, but most ignored her completely.
I walked by her slowly as I dared and glanced at her, 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 before I could turn back my head, her look 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 seemed to finger it, guided by some ephemeral thought, into a stringed puzzle, complicated and thick as thighs.
But that fleeting thought quickly dissipated 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 stopped, glanced back at me and with a flourish and a grin—I swear it!—just flipped the bird at me, then walked off, her feet flapping not unlike a duck’s odd walk.