Saturday, December 3, 2016

On Third

Morning in midtown, a cafe on Third.  The place was nothing special, but the food was decent. Mostly the customers were getting their food to go, and only a few of the tables were occupied.  On one side of me a trio of construction workers talked loud and ate quickly.  They kept their hard hats on. On the other, a couple of tables away, an elderly lady was breakfasting alone.  She was taking her time, all too well-versed in the careful arts of self-sufficiency.  In looks she was a Sitwell through and through, with the long, dolorous face and hooded eyes.   I glanced at her every so often, though I didn't want to stare too hard. There was something of the 1940's in the good wool coat, the white powdered cheeks, the arched, querulous eyebrows.  She was a faded queen. When I left, I couldn't help but turn her way directly. We smiled at each other, her face lit up, and beauty flooded in. Imagine the palest of blues, a thin, light, almost transparent shade, and that was the color of her eyes. Of course she'd commanded hearts and kingdoms.

Edith Sitwell

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