On Saturdays a green market opens in Union Square — and for a few hours an empty stretch of asphalt blooms with fresh herbs and flowers grown upstate, people can sample homemade jams and jellies and pick over ripe fruits and vegetables that make the underripe-for-shipping fare that we usually buy wilt with shame. It’s a little gustatory epiphany that I rely on.
On the walk home I passed by a young woman wrapped in a bedsheet and huddling against a building on 5th Avenue. She shook uncontrollably and was clearly very ill. I stopped and gave her money and saw white tear tracks etched against the ebony skin of her face. That broke my heart. I wished her well and she thanked me in a quiet voice. I looked back as I crossed the street and she was still looking after me. I blew her a kiss and waved. The walk home was hard, I thought of going back and asking if she wanted to go to the hospital, but it would be better if professionals helped her so I called 911 and asked if someone could check on her. They said they would send the police by and I knew they would — I’ve seen the police and EMS workers treat homeless people very gently here. I hoped that she would still be there when they arrived. I almost wrote that I prayed she would still be there, but that would be false. Praying in New York is useless. I cried hard for her when I got home — couldn’t stop thinking that no child is born with that as their destiny.
It’s a hard world for little things.