March 5, 2009

Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow

As if they had been sent out like two messages in a single bottle, a pair of photographs arrived tonight.

They show an intersection of Brooklyn; a cross of quiet streets hushed by snow.

The first was taken in the day. The cross of street and square of four corners shows the calm commotion of city life in the peripheries. Walkers in pairs, cars moving. You can hear the image, hear the ways tires on snow beautifully murmur. On the corner an awning promises business and something sustaining the busyness. If it had a caption that caption would contain the word "errands."

The other is a night scene of the same space. The snow seems replenished, but still slight over the city, casting the rough gauze of burning streetlight glow into the cloudy night, making earth and sky almost the same color. The awning on the corner shop is dark, emptied of meaning, as if it really is asleep.

There are some distinct footprints on one of the sidewalks. The neighborhood seems to have agreed on the need to turn in, though surely many peek out to see and feel the quiet, as the photographer did before claiming the moment with a click. Only one figure is visible below. Small and remote, a blur of movement becoming shadow that could so easily be missed; a woman, certainly, going home alone, maybe; maybe leaving the restaurant shift behind, or carrying the bar talk with her, the conversation living on in the cold close of a long day.

If the long season of February turned the words brittle and left too little of the mind able to see differently the familiar scenes buried by weather and blurred by numbing repetition, then it surely seemed March might follow just the same until April would become as cruel as promised. But then a glance at a stray cast off image from a city far off presents an image that makes the difference, marking, in its passage, the tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow of living in recognition, which in its petty pace, is all there is.

From Smoke, directed by Wayne Wang and written by Paul Auster: