Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Verbal Image

The description of this blog is “a repository of images.” Images can also be verbal. I have a deep love for visual images, but I like to try my hand at the verbal ones as well.

With no further ado, here is an image of a journey, from Angel Station in Islington, London, to Earl’s Court, Chelsea, London.

Dusk is creeping in London. The clouds smirk of rain. There are brilliant, blue-white flashes coming regularly, no thunder. This is puzzling till I see the window of the photography studio, the flashes making people glance and hurry.

I stop at the entrance to the tube station. The inside is hot, grimy, and artificially lit.

No. I don’t want to be in the belly of a little worm train, snaking through the ground. The crisp air and gloom forbid it. It’s doubledecker time.

The bus is the 19, to Hyde Park Corner. The best seat is open: front row, top deck, left corner.

A few of the trees have icy Christmas lights on selected branches, wrapped around the wood, giving the trunks a different dimension. The bus pulls so close to its cousin in front of it that were I to kick through the tall window before me, I’d hit its red paint.

The street looks half mystery, half welcome, the pedestrians Jeykll and Hyde: I’l never know which. A tiny gray-white spider races around the folds in my hoodie, and in trying to remove him nicely, I partially sqush him. Sorry sir.

Spiders, in my experience, do not fall for the “here, climb onto my finger!” schtick as readily as other bugs. Ants are the same way.

Two girls sit across the aisle. They talk too much. Well, one does. The other sits, contained, graceful, staring vacantly, listening politely. Something about the way she’s sitting is feline. “And I’m like,no, she’s been dating this guy for awhile, I’d know if they were engaged….That was so, like, stereotypical of him..”

Fascinating. Really.

I take a deep breath, and think: “SOMEone hasn’t bathed since the Dark Ages.”

Two policemen mosey along Cambridge Circus, talking easily to their companion, a man in street clothes. The metal points on their helmets glint sharp in the dark. Shaftesbury pulses with flashing bulbs on theater signs.

Contentment has snuck up on me. Like when you swallow hot coffee in the morning, and the warmth and vitality shivers through you. Can’t force it, can’t detain it. It simply is. Like art.

The bus goes past the Ritz Hotel. Once merely a family name, now an adjective and an empire. Its spangly, lightfooted ants scurry in and out of their anthill, trailing wealth like perfume.

I put a pound into a man’s hard, dirty hand, at the entrance to the Hyde Park Corner Station. He was the most cheerful person I’d met all day. And he is likely homeless, with only his blanket seat and a Styrofoam cup of coffee to his name. He said “Thanks, darling!” as if I were an old friend giving him cookies instead of a stranger with cold coin. That kind of courage deserves my pocket change, while I have it.

As I stood waiting for the train, I was looking at the boards and nails on the tunnel wall, and realized that they were not a painting. The stark lighting on the white paint made it look like hyper-realist art, and every time I looked at it again, I had to remind myself it was actual nails, actual plywood, not canvas.

I get off the train and think about putting my hood up to disguise the fact that I have earbuds in, since it’s dark, then remember being carded at Proms while attempting to obtain a Pimm’s and lemonade. I look younger with a hood up: also it hides my slightly-rougher-than-Chelsea half-hawk.

Pull open the satisfyingly heavy front door, breathe deep, and think happily, “somewhere, someone in this house is making nachos.” There was something comfortingly American about the smell of nachos.

Good night.


Babygirl said...

Dearest Lucie, Thank you for such a sensational piece of writing as the verbal image. After reading it, I feel as if I had walked with you from Angel Station to Earl's Court.

What a splendid, gifted writer you are--you are wonderfully made.


saycheese said...

Sometimes verbal images are the best of all, not hemmed in by the pencil or paint, but free to be imagined again and again in the mind. This is a real gift; to write in such a way that the scene is clearly before the reader, as if they were there.

You know, the other comment-er and I know great writing when we read it - even if we also happen to be your parents. Thanks for taking me back to the front seat of the bus.