★★★★★ It was cool, utterly cool, under the gray morning. Was it getting brighter? Someone's mirrored shades, approaching up the street, looked suddenly agleam. Downtown, a fresh wind was blowing down the subway steps. The puddle around the blocked drain on the landing, days old now, had dwindled by maybe half. There were white shoe prints in the black silt layer at the bottom. A cyclist pulled out into the bike lane on Lafayette without looking, forcing an oncoming rider on a Citi Bike to swerve and exclaim. The air felt nice on bare arms, in short sleeves. One's own skin was skin, after all, with live nerves in it, something more than a thermoregulating membrane or a layer of waterproofing. By afternoon, the sun was out and shining down. Different cloud types overlayered one another, and warm eddies chased after cool ones. People played music out their car windows at a sociopathically solipsistic volume, the beats forcing their way through the crowded sidewalks, carrying around the corner and up the block. The dining hubbub at open-air tables reached restaurant-interior levels. During the walk home, the colors in the west seemed unusually dull and ugly, gray and a bleached dead off-yellow. From the apartment window, though, the tinted monochrome clouds had something going on with them after all, a photographic-plate quality, a bright amber-white scribble along the top of an undulating row of connected dark gray puffs, with more of that hot white coming up on their lower edge. Subtly, the white burned into the gray, veining it and then shredding it, and an orange light started burning up from below. Even as this developed, the sky a few handspans higher up remained pure indifferent daytime blue, with a milk-white contrail stretching fat and persistent across it and white cirrus above that, a swath of some other sky altogether. Between the high and the low a gray veil darkened into view, like the smoke of something dirty burning. Then the sun got into the gray and raised bright ripples on it, while the lower clouds darkened to inky cutouts. The smoky veil turned brilliant pink. Below it, along the horizon, ran a whole field of fine parallel lines of magenta and orange, with still some sky-blue lines running among them. Abruptly, the veil went dark again. Hot-coal reds showed behind it, and the stripes on the sky were now pink and purple. Then the brightness was gone, yet in the dull afterlight, the blankly silhouetted clouds were three-dimensional again, shaded and textured by a barely luminous brown.
Thursday, July 17th, 2014
45 Polly Asks: New York Magazine Wants Me to Write Ask Polly For Them. Should I Tell Them to Piss Off?