Penelope Weiss

A Man in New York City

He was a tall man. 
Perhaps he was so thin because he was homeless. 
He always carried a hurricane lamp, with no light. 
He put it on the ground next to him. Perhaps it was a talisman.
I stopped to talk with him whenever I took 
the subway at 12th Street and Seventh Avenue. 
I imagined he was a sailor in his youth, although I never asked him. 
Maybe he had been a boxer or a truck driver. I don’t know. 
I don’t know why he stood there with his lamp. 
Was it because he wanted to find something 
that had escaped him or something that had escaped from him? 
I didn’t feel I could ask him that question.
But I knew he had walked up the steps inside
the Statue of Liberty with his lamp, to see the harbor through her eyes.

One Way of Looking at a Grandpa

          “I was always innocent,” said Grandpa Clare, my father’s father. “I didn’t know nothing, I didn’t do nothing.” I never knew what he meant, but it sounded good. “Look before you leap into the void” was another thing he said. Had he done that, leaped into the void? If so, what happened then? I never found out. He also talked a lot about Jezebel, the woman in the bible who brought Samson down. Later I found out it was Delilah who brought Samson down. Jezebel was married to King Ahab, a man who lived a long time before Captain Ahab. But it seems Jezebel had the same bad reputation as Delilah. I’ve been meaning to add up the good women v. the bad women in the bible and see who comes out on top, but I haven’t done it yet.
          That name, Jezebel, always attracted me: I often said to myself, Jezebel, Decibel, Jezebel, Decibel. It made sense in a nutty sort of way, especially when I took the bus across town to visit my Aunt Rose and Uncle Albert on the West Side. I would recite my Decibel, Jezebel litany under my breath all the way across the park, until the bus stopped at Broadway and 79th Street. Sometimes Al and Rose would take me to the playground in Central Park at 81st Street, the one near the bridle path, and then up the hill to Turtle Pond, Belvedere Castle (the weather station) and the Great Lawn.
          About that time, I thought I’d like to be a weatherman. Bob Dylan was a kid himself in those days (just a year older than me), way before he wrote “Subterranean Homesick Blues.”
          I still have no idea which way the wind is blowing.

Penelope Weiss grew up in New York City and now lives in Shrewsbury, Vermont. Storiana, her collection of stories, was published by Casa de Snapdragon Publishing and is available on Amazon.
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Blogger Richard J. Fleming said...

Always like your stuff and look forward to seeing it in Otoliths.

5:27 AM  

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