far rockaway christmas
this holiday comes in a harsh month.the east coast is cold, the hardwood trees are dormant and safely wrapped in their bark. in copses and shallow wooded areas around cities, their roots seek purchase in the rubble soil of landfill. The sparse urban parks placed by city planners on what was a swampy wet land, matted and webbed ,with salt water refreshing it twice daily. Occupied with the sound of gulls and scurrying crustacean creatures. when I stood waiting for the infrequent bus, on holiday schedule, I could know this. I saw the pavement and asphalt concrete boulevard as the thinnest crust. I knew the swamp was there. Just walk two big blocks at the end of Queens, and there was the ocean, it hung over the streets and in the air and the miles and miles of traffic lights glowing hazy.Yes the air is salty.
to this day if there are buses in my dreams, they are not calming or adventourous. buses are anxiety vehicles in my dreams. they seldom come before you get cold or harrassed on weekends and holidays, at night. for those of us who work nights, the holidays are the worst for public transportation. Out in Far Rockaway, the city stretches for miles . Miles of empty buildings, blocks of developements, half public housing and half older residents. The mechanics shops, one aging supermarket, the public school, the waterworks dept building, all empty. Occasional cars go by, someone comes out of the door in an apartment building, I watch everything, and wait and wait for that bus, that ferry, that air boat over the swamp. They have a sway to them, the buses. You see them approaching, bumping over potholes and crevices in the asphalt, and they rock, like a rectangular boat would.
I never wear a watch, I don’t like having bands , either leather or metal, around my thin wrists, but I got off duty at 11pm and have been standing on this sidewalk for less than 15 minutes and more than 10. My feet are cold but I try to remember I am standing on sand, standing in the reeds, that somewhere layers under my feet, is the memory of the wetlands , and that all that scurrying and squirming in the mud generates warmth, that motion is energy and that energy heats. I stomp my feet and bounce my legs, flap my arms, try to stay warm. If I light a ciggerette, the bus will come, and I can take it to the subway, and take the subway into lower Manhattan, and possibly meet some friends and celebrate the holiday one more year.If only the bus would come, I could lift a glass and hang out with the girls, and tell them I had to take an air boat to get there, and they would laugh.