Deborah Di Bari
White Cotton Shirt:
She picks a peasant shirt from the rack and looks for her size. There are 2 smalls, 3 larges, and 1 medium. Her fingertips pass over black paisley embroidered borders. The hanger dangles over her arm like a compass pointing southeast in the direction of its country of origin. She slides her bra straps off her shoulders, unties and reties the ebony satin ribbon into a bow. Spring ahead, longer daylight hours, summer not far off.
Did you find what you were looking for? Russian or Eastern European accent, to her ear both sound similar. Only the shirt, for now.
She gets into the Japanese hybrid redolent with cumin, cardamom, turmeric, and sumac. The driver’s lunch, half-eaten, in a foil puddle on the front seat beside him. Her destination given (forty-fourth and second) she repeats it in single digits, 4-4—and 2.
Argentinean Malbec bought at the liquor store a block from her apartment. She buys Italian Gorgonzola (dolce), Greek olives, and sundried tomatoes in Tuscan olive oil from the gourmet grocer next door, and stops at the Korean market on the corner for baby lettuce, and blueberries imported from Chile, a container of milk. A north wind off the Hudson; winter still hangs on.
She puts the bags on the glass top table. Uncorks the wine, shakes the baby lettuce into the salad spinner, the blueberries in a bowl. She lays the white cotton shirt embroidered with black paisley borders and ebony satin bow wrapped in tissue across her bed.
Washington Square Park:
The cloud hovers in a space between treetops. The cloud hovers on top of a building with a red tile roof. The cloud drifts lazily in the breeze touching her arm. A cloud between treetops, over a building with a red tile roof, leaves lush after a rainy spring—verdant at the start of a new season. Bird song, traffic slush, and children chirping—a breeze on her skin. Two women in black and white—the space between two strangers—almost astride, skirts dance around bare legs. One in a black dress beneath a white pinafore, thick straps crisscross at her back tie in a bow at her waist, a second behind, in a white sleeveless blouse over a black trumpet skirt, gussets fan open with her leg’s movement.
A red brick circle— in spots yellow tipped grass breaks through the cement mortar. A chick, a babe, and a girl sunbathe, lounge around the circle, roasting their flesh to a perfect hue, sits on blue jean legs eats crumbs from the bottom of the brown paper bag and reads—sits up, reties her bathing suit, tote bag on peach towel spread over red brick, rearranges the tote pillow, reclines—a straight leg flat to the ground, a leg bent at the knee, (stems), coral jean skirt, frayed hemline, black rubber sole flip-flops point north and south, head east, and body west, her fingertips travel her firm belly. Two leave. Tanning is tedious work.
The trees lush after a rainy spring—verdant in their infancy at the start of a new season before the onslaught of July and August heat. Bird song, traffic, voices of chirping children carried on the breeze. Dope dealers, chess players, and rats in the vegetation around the brick housed public bathrooms. Aware of my surrounding—my guard never down.
Six Floor Walk-Up:
She sits at the open window. A rind hangs from her hand. Pulp—red and fleshy—slips from her chin onto the front of her white t-shirt. Black seeds (watermelon) drop to the street below. Kids in bathing suits splash in hydrant surf on asphalt sand.
A Fish Story:
Day slips into dusk. The air turns cool. She walks along the shore, her face damp with fog. A dark shape huddles close to the dunes. Driftwood dragged off the beach, chained behind a pickup truck and set on a deck. Buff skin like chamois. Tree trunks churned in ocean waves and sun bleached, wind silenced in absent branches.
Wind through the hollow trunk—nothing more. Day after, Labor Day, sea glare blind windows squint into the thickening mist. You know how she responds. So much had happened, if not to her then to other women. A gust lifts party streamers like Isadora’s chiffon scarf tangled in spokes. She moves without hesitation.