A brain spins in a stagnant room, sick with sweat. The city curls itself into a fat ball, nauseous on its own concrete. At the butcher’s booth, in the back of the market, an Amish man sells moldy cheese, thick yellow bricks, turned sideways to hide green fur, he smiles rotten teeth at me, lowering his price. The smell of warm produce catches in my throat, sticks there drily, itching, scratching breath, my fingers in bins, of tomatoes, over ripened, rubber skinned apples, soft bleeding berries.
The air crawls on my skin, an infestation of flies, raising the scars
of memory, a monotony of course, thinned out by age.
The sidewalk is a hypocrite; A Pharisee of insincerity. I’ve little excuse for my animosity, no basis for my judgment, except that I have become slovenly, unclean of mind, full of bad intention.
An old lady taps my ankle, with her cane, as we stand at the corner of third and Verbeke streets. Cars drag themselves lazily past us, bumpers slicing humidity. I am a hunchback, stooped under the weight of my groceries, anxiously peering about for shadow. She taps my ankle again. I twist to face her, but she is staring straight ahead, speaking through clenched teeth,
“A purpose. That is what you need. Walk with a purpose, child, walk with a purpose. The bastards won’t touch you, if you walk with a purpose. And lose the big bags, it just attracts attention…”
She steps from the curb. I stop myself, just in time, before giving her a push.