11 Sep, 2009
I walk through Times Square. Red, blue, purple, yellow flash and wink. Faces blur. Lights pulse: on, off, on, off. Someone sings a pop song I don’t recognize, revving up those passing by. Times Square. Me, passing through.
Breathing sultry air, I witness the moment: on, off, on, off. I feel my arms in motion, my feet hitting the pavement. Buildings rise, old, connecting me to a past I cannot really touch. Billboards change rapid-fire and signs rotate. In just a few short minutes I witness Mary Poppins, Bubba Gump, race cars speeding.
In the midst of this are offers to come and go – somewhere, but I’m not sure of destinations. The bus stop. Theater tickets starting at $31.50. A giant beer bottle rising up golden, then disappearing.
“I will write as soon as I get to New York,” said Father Byles. I saw his words, bigger than life, white against amber, just an hour ago in the exhibit for Titanic. I will write as soon as never came. Still, the words are hanging somewhere near Times Square, in a dark hall where you can touch a piece of sunken ship, buy a fragment of coal that powered black and white promise (virtually unsinkable! they said). My daughter reached into the touch case – a fragile child’s hand traced remains of wreckage. We passed on the coal purchase, refusing to buy tragedy.
Mary Poppins floats skyward, clinging to her black umbrella. I watch her go and wish for my own umbrella against time. And a red dress. I could use a red dress, singing past tragedy.