Some Glad Morning
Two trumpet players, face to face on the downtown platform
at the 59th Street/Columbus Circle subway stop, are blowing
a polyphonic “I’ll Fly Away” during the morning rush hour,
and here comes the D, bashing its way into the station as only
an MTA New York City Transit train can, and my mind is
singing the southern-gospel lyrics — Hallelujah, by and by —
and the doors slide open, and I step on board, this time aching
to believe that just this once, the letter D stands for “Divine.”
I. She lives a life defined by — the words begin with a hiss — suffering and spine. She delivers His message to ears open and closed. Manhattan. The Bronx. Brooklyn. Queens. Her pulpit: any corner at any intersection. Today, Friday, 6 p.m., rush hour in midtown, under late autumn’s early nightfall, she declaims, with a prophet’s fire, chapter and verse at the Church of Broadway and W. 48th Street. Who told thee that thou wast naked? For the financial advisors and tourists from Iowa her Old Testament exhortations are a strained organ in a performance of an atonal work called Noise Metropolis.
II. Her home is a walk-up that nobody sees, fourth floor, down the hall, three rooms at the back of the building. Where she has no TV or radio, no laptop or phone. Where on the walls unframed pictures of a fig tree hang. Where she feeds herself apples, grapes, and pomegranate seeds. Where she opens the cage on the floor, pulls out a white rat, and feeds the snake in the terrarium. Where she sits at the kitchen table, naked, opens her Bible to Genesis 2, and rereads, night after night, her life story.