A black woman sits on a bench, on her skirts is a large densely packed notebook in which she writes words fervently, one after the other, under the light of a street lamp. It is night now and I am in a car, waiting at the stop light. My hands are free of the steering wheel, I’m slack and observing. The city is full of Sudanese refugees, she looks like one of those (I always look for them, to see if I will see in their faces what they saw). And how was it that, on her way to the kids, or back to the shelter, or from work, or between arrests, she found herself a corner here, in this chill, (there is nothing between skirts and socks, nothing to warm, her legs are bare) to sit under a street light on King David Boulevard and to write so much, so fast, as though the light were running out. And how it is that people find themselves a shelter in writing, a refuge for what is human in them, maybe even for the super-human.
In my hands began an itch, something prickling them to grip the door handle, to cross the line. But then she began reading, her voice that of a canting preacher, like those I remember from the subway in Brooklyn, and her strangeness again sealed the car shut from the dark outside and my recoiling senses nestled in the dry streams of the car’s heating.