Reading The Blue Clerk, 109

Reading The Blue Clerk, 109

“Verso 26”

From a village—let’s use this trope, let’s not use city—hospitality can be offered. It is much more difficult to offer it where you are a stranger. To extend yourself in spaces where each extension tests vulnerability. And was it in the early 90s that the number of children on the streets exploded? Or was it the mid-90s? Or the late 90s? In either case, the children increased and the stories came in: they hold shit and threaten to smear it on you if you do not give them something.

A block later I finally remembered his face.

And was there fear? And what did we not ask? And how we walked away quickly, not seeing children, but threats. (Threats.)

Out of fear.

Fear? Sometimes, yes.

We recited Everett Standa on how urbanity taught us to unsee each other as human and curtailed those practices of hospitality that affirmed a shared humanity—because you are, I am. Our faces expanded to match our outstretched arms, our bodies twisted in poetic ecstasies, our rhythms matched the adjudicators’ moods, our passions expended themselves so that we could ignore those we recited about.

He’d given me a blessing and I had given him nothing.

( . . . )