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Snowing in Manhattan

For Carl and Carolyn


It does not seem so long ago that it was snowing in Manhattan. Quietly and gently, unlike city snow, but like the snow that use to fall in the forests when I was a boy. This night the snow was sticking to the ground, to the deserted basketball courts and vacant streets, and remaining untrampled. Mysteriously, the streets were empty. It was as if for a moment the entire city and all the people in it looked away from this place and waited, silently and nervously, for some secretive act to be completed of which they referred to remain unaware. In answer to this momentary grace, created out of the vacancy itself, the snow, still whirling, congealed in the shadow of a particular building and one by one four figures appeared. We, awed to silence by the white haze, conscious of the precarious absence of eyes and movement, carefully tip-toed through the snow covered street, single file, one arm extended out to touch the shoulder n front. Our bodies replaced the words, the absent noise, with gestures left over from a conga line, bowing and bouncing and kicking out in unison to a common inner rhythm or a music which had not year made itself apparent. Occasionally the girl giggled as we made our wan, our winding, incredibly joyous way, to a Spanish bar on 14th Street. At the end of the empty street, buses and cars hastily made their way to the other side into the waiting shadow. This movement, so rapid and removed, only served to heighten the stillness that enveloped us. We filed to the door and paused for no reason and with one body looked back over our shoulders like silent film villains. We were tremendously aware, there, with one hand on the door of the magic our position created, our private walk, and savored one more minute before opening the door and the music, which previously we alone had heard came rushing out past us into the snow releasing the city from its silence. Safely now people returned, the streets filled, and the snow was trampled, though we, sitting foursquare at the bar drinking margueritas, could hardly know it. Three men and a girl saying farewell; farewell in gas heated loft, farewell in Spanish bar, farewell in the snow standing on the sidewalk outside watching the buses drive by and wondering that Carolyn was pregnant and if we would ever meet, like this, again.

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