Is it hunger that makes me see magnolia blossoms as semi-stirred cherry yoghurt, and pink almond blossoms as candy floss? And what’s this ahead, forcing us to cross the road? A group of middle-aged people are gathered on the sidewalk in front of a building under scaffolding. (Construction carries on through the winter here.) Short bearded men stand with women in dark jackets. Just as I am wondering if they are post-renovation buyers, I recognize that red brick, and just as I say to myself, Hey, that’s Radclyffe Hall’s house, what are they doing to it…, I hear the tour guide say, “She was one of a group of upper-class lesbians.” Pause over the British propensity for class classification. Proof of spring: tourists in this quiet street on a week day.
The sun in the park brings flies to the dog’s coat and bees to the buds and blossoms on trees. There is a haze in the air, of cool and warm meeting in a wet kiss flavoured by the airborne dust of leaf and grass from the tractor mower. Ahead, an alley of trees bright with leaves about to unfurl. Green miasma, I think of this visual haze, but my dictionary confounds me.
Two men approach me jogging fast (or running — at what speed does one become the other?), both wearing a white t-shirt and navy shorts. Bright white in spring sun. One is a head taller than the other, and giraffe bony. The taller of the two sweats more profusely. His run is awkward and in his awkwardness seems to run faster. As if his feet are too far away for him to fully control. The shorter man jog-runs easily, barely sweating. The taller man talks, using an English I don’t understand. I pick out: marketing, contract, go forward. The shorter man listens and does not speak. The taller man’s face is loose, his jaw flopping out his words, while the other’s is tight, a nose-breather, his eyes on the ground ahead of him. He listens and does not speak or nod, his face expressionless. They pass, misting my air with their sweat. Looking back at them, I see that the taller man has black panels on the sides of his t-shirt, under his armpits and along his ribs, making him look thinner from a front or back view. Not identical tees, thus not company outfits. The taller man leans his head down to talk to his mate, angling his shoulders, speaking confidently, confidingly. The silent reception of his words bothers me. Don’t trust him, I want to shout to the tall man. His confidences flow as easily as his sweat. He needs a towel to mop it up, to stop his mouth.
I walk on, consoling myself with the thought that the shorter man may be finding it hard to keep up with the long legs. He may seem tight, locked, he may be silent because he can’t talk and breathe. Or he doesn’t want to inhale the miasma coming off the taller man. Miasma: an infectious or noxious vapour, esp. from putrescent organic matter, which pollutes the atmosphere; a polluting, oppressive or foreboding atmosphere or influence.
Pronounce as: me-asthma (if you don’t say the “th”).
-Thursday 13 March