[12/12/2006] Embarcadero Morning Rush Tai Chi Player

This morning my mind was on joining. The idea, not the word, leaves the ferry terminal with me, aiming down Market Street. Once across Embarcadero Street, however, I veer right across the plaza, toward Clay Street, past Tai Chi Player on the concrete vista of Justin Herman Plaza. 

The light over Clay is grey twilight. The sun is fogged. Its sodden light lays over the neutral stone of Embarcadero Four. There are once-sleepers across in the park, pulling up cardboard mats, stowing Glad bag bindles, shambling away to rummage. The words that come to mind:

paper crab hide

I used those words to capture some aching leaves curling outside my mind, itself cold-pressed, humming with C-150 rawls from overhead. Today they come to mind because I am watching those old coats, thin hoodies dimpled by constant greased thumb-pulling, the cold and the waking tearing at their own necks. Pained fox lives, seeping back into the parkscape. The grainy light smeared over the parking lot exit attendant, who is wearing his mile-away stare. On one side of him, the sovereign Embarcadero Four; on the other, the hapless neighbor Embarcadero Park to the north; he is checkpoint.

A prize of tai chi, as with many martial forms, arrives as one learns to carry only what is his. I am still carrying the Yang-style player back in the plaza, a Chinese dressed in the common signifiers of Fog City: lycra tights, baseball cap, turtleneck, puffed windbreaker, sturdy, scuffed runners. I won't unload him; he is too taken with his sense of prominence. He is unrooted, his back is canted, he signifies purpose in his too-wide stance, but he does not effect it.  

Then I am crossing Battery, where I look through the windshield of every car edging into my crosswalk, no matter if I have the light. The grey begins to lift near the post office, and when I turn at the next block, onto Sansome, I begin to sink each leg deliberately. Tree.

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