Wednesday, March 16, 2011

It's Wednesday

Concrete, chipped and pitted, worn in grooved paths where feet fall, flows between brick, periodically broken by the stems of metal flowers, lamp posts now sleeping on the edge of dawn. Without the pools they provide, the world is in black and white, waiting for the sun to come color. They call this the jungle.

It is Wednesday, you can tell by the smell. Beneath the brake dust and exhaust lies exotic spices that come from the burst embryos of trash bags. Second story dwellers, conserving energy, drop them like hydrogen bombs out window, silently so as not to let you know it is coming before the whistling grabs your attention, turning your head just in time for the splash eruption.

Men will come collect what makes it into the dumpster, sometimes even scooping the spills in flat headed shovels, tossing it in to crush, cart off to some place we don't see, monuments to our waste. Our past. Where we have been as we rush head on, grasping hands first into the future, leaving them to figure what to do with it when we get there.

This early the streets are silent except the scrape, bang of the trash man, grinding gears, grind to a halt, grinding. Cars weave around his slow progress, stirring wind in their wake. Hiss, hiss, the buses brake and clang as they clip sewer caps. And my foot steps rap.

By a corner alley cut through between buildings one sack, split, spilt out, a baby doll lays half hanging head and arm staring back with one button eye. Rice crawls across her from some days left overs, but she smiles in stitching. A toy too young, too old, too yesterday to some kid discarded.

Checking my watch, I jay walk the street and find a seat on the bus stop bench, snatching a passing piece of newspaper blowing down the sidewalk to catch up on the news from three days ago. Grind, hiss, bang. Grind, hiss, bang, bang. The dumpster comes to a stop across the street, disembarking her waste management warriors in blue coveralls to scoop and schlep the mess.

One man, bald, mops his head with a red kerchief and blows his nose, then bends to one knees drawing my eyes. Curious, I watch him fish the refuse then tenderly lift the body in his hands. He dusts her off, gentle, the whites of his teeth cracking wide catch the first glint of sun. Unzipping, he tucks the baby doll inside where it will be warm and safe until he gets home.

The bus abruptly blocks my view, its doors peeling open inviting me in and I take a new seat and watch through the window as they load the bags, empty the cans and we pull away. Who will get his treasure? Will they smile, like he, in gratitude at something new, to them, not caring where its been?

Crinkling, I fold the paper back in a neat rectangle and scan the stock market listings as if they mattered, more than passing the time until my stop.

for Theme Thursday and 10DOM

109 comments:

Barbara Shallue said...

I love this scene - especially of the doll finding a new home. (Toy Story 3 kills me.) Great job - I was right there seeing, smelling and hearing.

Tom said...

one man's trash...

Travel & Dive Girl said...

I love the imagery. Happy to know the doll has found a new home.

Amy said...

You sure know how to put a person right there in the scene! I love that the doll finds a new home. As they say, "One man's trash, another mans treasure".

Mighty M said...

It's trash day here too....although nobody is going to find any treasures in our trash today. :)

Nessa said...

Such a rich selection today highlighting how all in life is perception. Beautiful.

Titanium said...

Could almost hear the trash bags whistling by my head, just reading your vivid account.

rosaria said...

"...but she smiles in stitching." What a telling detail,foreshadowing her future. Well done!

ayala said...

I just felt like I was there........beautiful imagery.

Who Is Afraid of Alfred Hitchcock? said...

Hi! Brian...
I hear these sounds..."scrape, bang of the trash man, grinding gears, grind to a halt, grinding..." every Wednesday morning too!

I sometimes wonder where all that trash is going to eventually, end-up too!

Recycling is the key!
Thanks, for sharing!
DeeDee ;-D

Daniel said...

This one was vivid in my mind. Love the found treasure and the loving thought that picked it up.

David Allen Waters said...

life in the city...amazing,vibrant and alive...the doll, very creative way to look at the throw aways in society...brilliant my friend

Colleen said...

This touches something really deep in my heart. I understand the empathy in it. Those minutes where the person you are watching becomes everything to you in your thoughts...
Sometimes a scene or a person strikes you as so fragile...so heartbreaking and poignant.

But I also know too well, the way we distance ourselves from it. Maybe we can't handle such feeling for very long. It hurts the heart.

Have a great day. :)

Linda said...

You have such a brilliant way with words!
I was there, right there, hearing the sounds, smelling the scents. Long before the man knelt, I longed for someone to rescue that doll.
Wonderful Brian.

Teri said...

Ah, trash day and all that comes with it if you allow yourself to think beyond the bags. What are the implications of what we throw away, what we pick up, what we see if we look beyond the surface. Where does it all go, where do the collectors go when they are done, what happens to our earth and on and on. So much to think about in such a short little poem. You are brilliant in touching other's lives in many different ways.

Hilary said...

You can write purpose and meaning to just about any everyday occurrences. That doll is going to be loved.

Sue said...

I could smell the garbage.

(It reminded me of when I worked in downtown Chicago.)

=)

Joybird said...

The picture of the man kneeling in the street to tenderly rescue that doll from garbage...wow...I could think on that for a while.

Raven said...

This is wonderfully vivid and teases all of the senses. You really brought this scene alive!

Betsy said...

aww...somebody got a new dolly to love!

Jannie Funster said...

Wow, it sure is true the people we see every day. Little crossings between humans.

Very Fisher King-ish this doll story to me.

:)

Lisa notes... said...

So much of the world goes unnoticed. Who is picking through my past and finding a treasure to reuse?
You make me think, as always.

drybottomgirl said...

So many treasures to be found, if we truly open our eyes. On my way home from my husband's apartment I dug a hug candlopra(sp) lamp out of the garbage. I took it home stripped and repainted and then had a lady make this gorgeous victorian shade for it. It is beautiful to all who see it.....

Elaine said...

Lamposts now sleeping on the edge of dawn. Love it!!!
Sacred time of day that is Brian!

Nancy said...

It always makes me a little sad, seeing children's toys and clothing discarded in the trash. I wonder if there was excitement and joy when the items were new? I wonder if they were given and received in love. I think there are a lot of stories out there in the trash piles. You found one.

Baino said...

Aww, hate to see discarded dolls, they look as lonely as an odd sock. Two birds, one stone eh?

Pastor Sharon said...

Who knew a bus ride, and a trashman could make me lean on my elbows to read a story.

This is good. Do I smell a faint hint of a dumpster? Yep. You managed to take us all the way there.

Heather said...

aw, so sweet, your words make this outstanding.....a baby doll with smiles in her stitching... i am hoping there's a little girl waiting for her dad to bring it home to her....

ds said...

Wow. So glad rice is not on tonight's menu (that image of it "crawling" across the doll's face, so powerfully drawn)...all the sights, the smells, and now the hope. For the doll, perhaps for all of us.
Surprised but glad you went the other way with this...

Bossy Betty said...

Loved all the specific details here. You brought the scene to life once again.

blueviolet said...

There are treasures to be found in the trash. I'm telling ya!

Shewriting said...

it is all a matter of one's perspective, i am told...happy hump day

secret agent woman said...

Aw, what a tender rescue of the discarded doll.

deb colarossi said...

There is always so much for the heart and soul to digest in the city...

You make art of life well, Brian

Vodka Mom said...

xxx

nic said...

an auditory delight with an ending that both warms and chastens me. well done yet again, brian.

Bethany Ann said...

thanks a lot for making me smell garbage (you good writer, you). sadly, though, this story would never play out in my world. our garbage men make more than we do -- our trash is definitely not their treasure.

Ben said...

A nice slice of daily life in the urban jungle. Love the brief glimpse into the one man's life. Leaves me wanting to know more about him.

Myrna R. said...

It was so pleasant to read this. Though about garbage, there is a gleam of joy within it. I hope we all find that gleam, even for a moment, especially when trash surrounds us.

Tara Miller said...

I like the way you slowed down to tell this simple story of daily life. It's nice to just sit and observe our world sometimes. Too often we are rushing through life and don't really enjoy the here and now. There are many treasures/blessings to be found along our journey...if.we.just.slow.down.

I like that your trashman found a treasure for someone special. Makes me think of Frankie.

CM said...

How do you do this??? You take something so ordinary that every one of us sees daily and turn it into poetry. Amazing.

The jungle...so true. I work in it every day.

PS. Yo, thanks Dawg for your comment! :-)

TALON said...

Felt just like I was walking with you, Brian...the man scooping the baby doll - priceless.

Marla said...

What an amazing picture you paint with words.

Kim Turnage said...

So much to love here, Brian. I can smell the garbage...all the way over here. And I love your man with red kerchief and wide smile.

She Writes said...

The doll makes me sad. Poor one eyed thing!

April said...

I love these lines:
Our past. Where we have been as we rush head on, grasping hands first into the future, leaving them to figure what to do with it when we get there.

Magpie said...

Another walk in your daily life...so complete I'm sure I boarded the bus right along with you.

KB said...

I felt like I was right there. Very well done Brian.

sonny said...

hmmm......so...like we have anything good to report in gotham city my dearrr robin ?

grins....sowwy...jus pulling your leg...:))

this was really a touching write...i remember there was this time i used to take the bus to my college everyday and pass a railway colony on the way..small tiny....

like a filing cabinet of human lives...but what always caught my eye were the plants all those people used to have hanging in old tins n bottles n jars on their balconies...that splash of joy n hope....hmm ?

its a pleasure to read you brian..mean that...smiles

Goofball said...

I could smell the trash

and I hope the doll has a good new home

Zuzana said...

As always, you are a keen observer of humanity and you can convey it so eloquently with your words.
So much love lies in the most unusual places.
Have a great St. Patrick's day dear Brian,
xoxo

Anonymous said...

This is so vivid. I was there. Thanks for commenting on my poem.

Valerie said...

Liked the way you described the scene, yes I too felt I was there. But.... 'Second story dwellers, conserving energy, drop them like hydrogen bombs out window' .... WHAT! Does that really happen where you are?

Tabor said...

Once again you take something so common and monotonous and make it into a compelling scene. "One man's trash..."

ladyfi said...

Such a tender scene - the old man giving the doll shelter.

MorningAJ said...

That is simply marvellous. Our rubbish collected on Wednesday too - but I didn't notice any of that. Thanks for making me slow down and relise that I probably missed something wonderful.

David N. said...

Love it, Brian. This is a great moment you captures. A writer's eye is never closed!

Lord Thomas of Wellington said...

Happy St. Pat's back atcha! :)
Cheers!

-t- said...

i relish this space: lamp posts now sleeping on the edge of dawn. Without the pools they provide, the world is in black and white

and i celebrate this one: He dusts her off, gentle, the whites of his teeth cracking wide catch the first glint of sun.

in both i find The Son :)

thank you for sharing, as always, fantastic write :]
-t-

becky said...

so many textures here, vivid imagery and storytelling...life among death. You had me at "It is Wednesday. You can tell by the smell."

Paul C said...

Your story rings true about the grit, dust, and struggle for many.

Alan Burnett said...

If those first couple of paragraphs had been the first couple of paragraphs of a new book I was reading I would have been well and truly hooked.

budh.aaah said...

There are so many broken ones 'too young, too old, too yesterday'..I hope there are more angels like the man out there who picked er up and gave her a warm, safe place near his heart...

Julie said...

I love how you paid such close attention to the garbage pick up, and found something meaningful and sweet among the mess. Beautiful.

Friko said...

You are a brilliant writer, Brian. I think this piece is one of the best of yours I've read. And I've read a lot of them since I joined your band of admirers.

Rachel said...

The lamp post part was my favorite as well, so many good descriptions of what your Wednesday looks like today.

Jill from Killeny Glen said...

I adore this...for some reason I have always had sympathy for the discarded. Living and non-living. One would think I would be a hoarder as I give non-animate things feelings. To think the doll COULD have ended up in the dump, yet, thinking of the JOY she will bring to some little girl...you really caught a feeling there.
Well done.

Bev said...

brian, this is great. so great. on so many levels.

"cart off to some place we don't see, monuments to our waste."
can't see it, it must not exist.

denial!

dopey said...

Wow Brian, you put us there on that bench. Happy for the doll to have a new home and for the child that it will make smile.

dopey said...

Tara,

I don't know if you and I are thinking of the same, but me too!!
-L

LauraX said...

thank you brian for taking us to the heart of a sacred-ordinary moment.

Kati patrianoceu said...

Oh the waste, the waste we produce, it's tragic! What a lovely little snippet of someone who values it, and what a great description of our trash as being our past. That's actually haunting. In my job, we often talk about how to get people in communities where we work to clean up their own trash. I wonder if they ever thought of it this way, if that would help them make wiser decisions?

emily wierenga said...

wow. the way the trash bags burst like embryos, the way your footsteps rap... you pulled me in, i had no choice, forced to face the dismembered doll... well done, brian. (as always)

emily wierenga said...

ps. how do you make poetry out of trash??!

Claudia said...

yes you do - you make poetry out of garbage..

tony said...

A Parade Of Life.The Beauty Of Concrete.
I Love This Brian.Man! Your Writing Is On Fire At The Moment.

Mama Zen said...

You've created such a rich, tangible scene. Outstanding.

Carrie Burtt said...

You built a place with hammer nails and pencil...and i was there...your imagery is amazing Brian! :-)

elizabeth said...

Your word pictures are a wonder.

patty said...

your writing is always so interesting, always draws me in. this was one of my father's favorite sayings...
thank-you always for visiting, and your treasured comments.

tracy said...

As much as I love your writing these are the things I like best.

What will Thursday bring? or maybe what DID Thursday bring?

adeeyoyo said...

Wonderful descriptions, Brian. I loved the part about the baby doll - it is an ill wind indeed...

Syd said...

I am glad that the doll will have a new home. We discard so much and in doing so discard ourselves.

Vicki Lane said...

This is so good -- what and how much we discard says so much about us as a nation.

The Retired One said...

Wonderful description of your street scene, Brian. I loved that he tenderly brushed off this doll and kept her....

Pat said...

You brought me right to that street corner, watching the action. A tender moment caught, then gone.

lori said...

Your descriptions are vivid, and I felt I was there with you. Fabulous story-telling, friend...

"...monuments to our waste. Our past."

Great stuff :)

haikulovesongs said...

wow! your writing is always brilliant.

Ami Mattison said...

The images of this piece, Brian, are just astounding and in some ways so unrelenting that I was driven along from one to the other, until that final fantastic image of the treasure hunter and his smile. Really like the prose form, which while shaped as fiction resounds as poetry. And finally, there just couldn't be a sweeter account of trash!

mama-face said...

Ok... the man creeped me out a bit. What is he going to do with that doll?... will we ever know?...

I could feel the beat of the street though-very rap like.

PattiKen said...

Great detail, Brian. I could see and smell Wednesday. In my mind's eye, you, I and the doll were in Max Headroomland.

JeffScape said...

Hmm... now I'm wondering when my trash day is.

Er oh...

Andy said...

Hi Brian, great imagery.

Gaston Studio said...

Excellent Brian! Loved the phrase, "lamp posts now sleeping on the edge of dawn." Loved that someone rescued the doll!

Gaston Studio said...

I got so wrapped up in your story, I forgot to say:

Congrats on POTW!

TechnoBabe said...

Congrats on POTW.

Reflections said...

Wow, powerful piece, gruff with the noises of the trash truck grinding by... leading to the tenderness shown to a simple treasure to be resurrected for some young unknown heart. Very observant piece.

CherylK said...

You created a perfect picture, Brian. We really don't see everything around us unless we open our minds as well as our eyes. You are a genius at that.

slommler said...

Beautifully and tenderly written Brian. Brought a tear to my eye and I thought of the smile that little doll will bring when he cleans her up and fixes her.
Congrats on your POTW
Hugs
SueAnn

Meryl said...

What a poetic rendition of the wonderfully mundane we so often take for granted. It was just beautiful. Thank you.

chrisd said...

I enjoyed your post. I liked your images and the sounds that you described. It went along with the prompt, I thought.

I hope for that doll--that it will find a good home. (I agree about Toy Story 3).

Well done!

Joanna Jenkins said...

Comment # 101 to say congrats on your POTW from Hilary.
Cheers, jj

Everyday Goddess said...

Reminds me of Dr. Eckleburg and the valley of ashes. Gatsby.

You write so well, just like FSF!

Everyday Goddess said...

Did my comment go through? i like this one very much, reminds me of FSF, and his Dr. Ecklberg watching over the valley of ashes. You also remind me of FSF!

Christine said...

Watching the world outside the bus is so much more educational and enlightening then the stock market. Nice take on the prompt enjoyed it.

Tina said...

Nice setting of scene. Like I've said before, you do these slice of life pieces so well. I've missed reading you (and my other must-reads). This reminded me again why you're on that short list.

Cynthia M said...

So prolific, I love your description of rubbish bags as erupted embryos's. I was touched by the scene with the doll too,such tenderness...

Harnett-Hargrove said...

Ah, a story on it's way to being told. -J

Not For Jellyfish said...

Wow. You have a lot of comments.

For some reason, the baby doll with the rice was imagined in my head as an abandoned baby with maggots.

Either way, interesting story and one of my favorites by you.