Alchemy: Postcardperfect sun andredefining reality; on the stage of the Street boat basin nature is the everpresent performer, enchantress, and finally, trickster.
Where the Hudson River was unlit, its surface receded and sank; where the sun’s light romped, shimmering runners of rainbow luminescence appeared to reverse the river’s movement from horizontal to vertical. A feral speedboat, its canvas roof carmine, the color of a movie star’s lips, its body cerulean fiberglass, fractured the illusion of optics with violent momentum and gouged a deep violet gash into the river’s fluid skin. Gulls, kamikaze in aggression and concentration, dived, skimmed river surface, and then ascended until they disappeared, sometimes with fish in their beaks, sometimes with what they merely thought were fish. When river mended itself, flowing south to north, it carried with it old Reeboks still laced and toes turned upward, spent and dulled condoms as transparent as cellophane, pastel race tipsheets with some dreamer’s circled selections, and other chronicles of contemporary human settlement.
As evening progressed the Hudson dispersed its cargo downstream and dissolved beyond the wide bend of verdant borders, its luminosity dusty now, tempered mauve, its movement less energetic. Evening was the time of day that also lent this place its meditative quality, and if you were blind, so be it, because the boat basin offered more than enough gifts to whichever of your senses remained.
The river shipped a light draught landward. It raised Joe’s hair. A raspy diatribe against liberals, rantings of a radio talk show host, swelled from one houseboat, a bobbing monstrosity of peeling greens, blues and grays. An uneven recording of Pavarotti’s most recent concert in Central Park swelled from another, an aria from Pagliacci, “Vesti la Giuba,” to be exact, and bounced between spaces created by neighboring . Wind brought one waterdweller’s misdemeanor to Joe’s nostrils as he disturbed ancient contents of a litter box by raking them into the river. When stench subsided, Joe knew someone would dine on lamb chops smothered in onions and peppers with a touch of tarragon (a strange touch she thought) this evening.
She sensed an approach. She palmed the curve of her cane.
The young man with the fade cut and the brickorange legwarmers topping his. A fan of hers. He and his two companions, African Greys, were also boat basin regulars. One parrot, male, was perched on the back of his gloved hand, his red tail grazing the wrist; the other, female, rested on his shoulder and tilted her head sideways to nibble the oversized gold hoop that swung and winked at her from a sizable keloid blooming from his right earlobe.
from WhistleSof’WhenY’ / ©Amirh Bahati