Thursday, July 23, 2009

manhattan maps

My heart has a scar the shape of Manhattan.
The subway map is tattooed on my palm, something I intrinsically know and grasp upon.


NYC Love Triangle

The Empire State Building felt like midtown itself, tall grey and corporate, the inside of her turning like a revolving door, steel against steel, thought against thought, separated by black rubber padding. The loop de loop of practical footwear and discount bags leaving smudge marks on the glass interior she’d polished the day before. “Floor 58!” yelled the attendant, in his tweed jacket, pushing streams of people up into her, only to peer out the top as if they wished to escape.

She too wished to escape, but how do you jump off and out of yourself?

Over her ledge stood the City, buildings lined up like dominos, cigarette-thin from above. And uptown stood Chrysler, chic in her 20s style flapper dress turned upside down. Empire watched her. No one pushed or climbed their way through her belly. No lines of people munching McDonalds and sipping Jamba Juice were sucked up her elevator like some straw.

Empire sighed gusts of cumulous clouds in envy.

Oh, to stand long and lean, to be silent in this city of noise, to be elegant in this crass place. Like some silent movie star in a drop-waist dress lighting up at night in lines of silver like rows of stars, belted around Orion’s waist.

For while Empire loved Chrysler, Chrysler loved Orion. Orion, that downtown drag queen with the night sky for a stage, in his heels tall enough to obit him into space, flashier than any billboard and pinpoint bright. He orbited above Chrysler nightly, made of things to wish on. She loved him like some sugar-sweet toothache just from looking at him, dancing above her head in wide lines of stars. Sometimes she could look under his dress, and wondered at that, too. But he never noticed her, didn’t look down that way, he kept his chin up, grazing the Big Picture, lived in the big picture so much because he was a big picture. If anything, he was waiting for someone to come gliding across the horizon like a nighttime float in some Macy’s Day Parade. Some girlboy made of stars and sparkle and light.
Most nights, Orion hung his belt over the colored tip of Empire.  He liked how she always changed colors.  He'd hang his belt and keep gazing, over the city as a whole, flashing like a sky full of stars layid on the ground, a sky in reverse.  "The city is trying to reach us" he’d whisper in Empire’s long ear, watching her lights turn on one square at a time at dusk, creeping upward slowly toward the sky, toward him, he thought. In return, he brightened star by star like light bulbs strung on the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.
Empire never noticed him. She only looked over his lean shoulder, watching Chrysler's silver bangles turn on, one by one, flashing toward heaven.  Empire would look at her own crown and sigh in sudden gusts of wind, "So gaudy" she thought, of her pink tips for Valentine's Day, red and green for Christmas.  DING!  The attendant exited with a handyman's tool belt around his waist.  It was his job to turn on her lights every night, though neither one of them liked it. 

Empire sighed riplets of green light because it was March. “Oh, little Chrysler girl, where did you grow up?  What kind of daddy did you have?  His marquee must have lit up with your name every Sunday, and you’d overlook the sun sparkle parks together, brimming with happy walkers. He must have bought you pink fluff cotton candy under white fluff clouds and you must have talked about being a princess when you grew up and he must have listened.  And now you are. On Fifth Avenue in a silver upward-flowing dress, the moon kissing your forehead every night.”
And so went every night, the berumuda triangle of lost love over New York City, as millions lost and found and lost love again on the gridded streets below, streets paved with impermanence. They say the city never sleeps, the buildings twinkling at night with hidden feelings and wishes, the sky twirling on its axis of desire, a broadway-star pole dancing on the horizon line. Orion with his flashy boots and Chrysler in her dress and Empire in her crown, restless and star crossed, wanting to fill in the empty rooms of their hearts with different things.