Ghosts & Sentinels

April 13th, 2009 § 1 comment

I am still amazed to discover daylight to spare after coming home from work, as it seems a magical trick performed by the promise of the warmer weather to come. Arriving home from work recently, I decided it was the perfect evening for a dusk meander.


It seemed to be a warm, tranquil night that many were taking advantage of, and it was mostly couples I passed as I followed the winding, upward path toward the Cloisters. Benches were filled with secluded, though openly visible, couples waiting for the sunset or kissing and ignoring the sunset instead. I suppose when you are alone it is natural to pay more attention than usual to those around you. Shrunken elderly ladies in twos and threes slowly plodded along the garden paths, and a few families with children played on the flat and somewhat green lawns. Men ran or walked alone with their dogs, most circled so that as I stood and watched the sun disappear, its yellow reflection lingering in the river, I saw the same pairs of man and beast pant past.

It is soothing to watch the seasons change, so slowly, and so completely unromantically, in the landscape. The awkward in-between stages I enjoy most; greening grass surrounded by still brown tress, blooming yellow trees stuck in the midst of dead shrubs and ground cover. The trees lining my street are still reaching for sun they can’t quite get, and it will be a while before Dongan St. is hot enough to need the shade they provide.

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The sunset was so dynamic that I could not help but linger until is was completely gone, my thoughts wandering from the people around me to those in my mind they dwelt most on, to the realities of getting home, or down, and to dinner. As amazing as the daylight is after working all day, the quickness with which dusk turns to night is equally disconcerting. The people around me had changed rapidly in those few minutes of hesitation, and young men now paced the paths hurriedly and purposefully, on deals or meetings of an unknown, but guessable, nature. The fastest way down is not the winding path I took up, but a long series of stairs that zigzag their way down the hill, dumping you out at Broadways edge. It is not a well-lit path, nor a popular one, and it is not one I relish walking down alone. Under the circumstances it seemed the best option, so I plunged downward from the street of retreating couples and night lights toward dark steps, silhouetted people I could see standing in the shadows, and Broadways comforting bustle far below.

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On my way down, at the top of each flight of steps, a man stood waiting, silently, without moving, hardly visible to my rushing steps. They were not frightening, though not particularly comforting either, but I knew their errand, whatever it was, had little to do with me. They waited and watched me pass by, reminding me of silent watchers, acting more like statues or guards than people to be greeted or acknowledged. Reaching the bottom of the steps and colliding with Broadway, I rejoined the families who had started their winding decent much earlier. Passing by two sisters running and skipping in front of their parents, I overheard the elder tell the younger, “they say there are ghosts in this park…” The story went on but out of earshot, though I smiled, picturing my brother whispering the same thing, looking for my reaction of delightful fear. It was a secluded walk but somehow by the time I reached my door I felt as though I had walked through the stories, be they my own incarnations, of all those I had passed by.


§ One Response to Ghosts & Sentinels

  • M says:

    I was sure that this was an image of a lady in a gown and hat rushing down the street to an evening engagement!

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