Elegance floats by like a cloud. Hair, like a clear waterfall, softly cascades over carefree shoulders and down a perfectly sloped back. Eyes, like emeralds set in the finest china, framed by lashes of peacock feather. She is perfection beyond reason, beauty beyond heartbreak, delicacy beyond subtlety – innocence too fragile to handle.
Dirt sits in a cardboard box, wrapped in a soiled wool coat many sizes too big, its pockets with room enough for a pint but not room enough for a penny. A face rougher than his wool coat frames eyes red from constipated tears. The only smoothness this face knows is a scar cutting through his left cheek. But that scar is nothing compared to the scars underneath; it is what we call, “the tip of the iceberg”.
I watch as Elegance crosses the street. She walks naturally, artlessness too artful to articulate. Dirt sits with a head bowed, surrendered in submission, oblivious to Elegance’s presence. She walks passed him. He sees her shoes, looks up and, though it is hard to tell for certain from this distance, their eyes meet. He lethargically looks away. She quickly rummages in her purse, and, without getting too close, flips him a coin, a silver one I think.
The next day the same thing happens. The day after, she walks up to him with a steaming cup of coffee and a sandwich. He knocks the coffee out of her hand, spilling it on her skirt. Elegance has not been elegantly treated. She turns away and I see her face. Her lips tremble, her eyes let a single tear. I watch as it softly rides down her cheek and hangs from her jaw. There is a sadness I see that makes you want to smack Dirt for causing it. Slowly she walks away while he turns his head to the side and the cap off his bottle.
Night passes away and dawn is born. Dirt’s alarm clock is shining its rays and the city awakes. I watch all day, but Elegance doesn’t show. Is that a fidgetiness I see under the oversized coat? I don’t know; but he has definitely smoked more cigarettes today than I have ever seen him smoke before.
Another day passes without Elegance’s showing and Dirt is definitely showing signs of impatience. I know this because for the first time his eyes seem to be seeing things.
As the moon spotlight’s the stage called Earth, shining almost directly unto Dirt, I see that familiar walk of Elegance, making its way towards the spotlight. Dirt, with the moonbeam blinding his eyes, cannot see Elegance approach. When she stops in front of him, and he sees her shoes, his head snaps up, the quickest and surest move I’ve seen him make yet. Elegance bends down, grabs Dirt by the shoulder of his coat, and pulls him to his feet. He wobbles and falls on her. She almost collapses under his weight, but ever so elegantly steadies herself until he is leaning on her in more ways than one.
They walk together, he dirtily, she elegantly. I follow at a safe distance. I don’t want them knowing they are being watched. They cross the bridge. They aren’t talking; just walking. They walk into the park. They walk down the main path, walked by thousands every day; but, if I’m not mistaken, it looks as if they are walking along their own path, as if no one has ever walked it before. Passed the pond they go (while I’m pondering), and when they stop to look into the still water, I can see their countenances reflected: what an unlikely couple they make, he with his hard face and perpetual snarl, she with her soft innocence and hopeful expectations.
As they continue on to no apparent destination, I realize that this journey is the destination.
After a period beyond time has passed, they sit under a tree. Dirt looks at Elegance and lifts a calloused hand to his prickly chin. In a fluid motion Dirt peels away chin, cheek, and face – roughness and scardom give way to purity and naturalness. There is a glow emanating from his being, as if someone lit a candle in a dark room, or, more accurately, blew the dust from a bright diamond.
I am stunned. Elegance, however, seems not to be. And, as I watch, I see why:
In the light of “Dirt’s” face, I see Elegance: she lifts a delicate hand to her fragile chin. In a shaky motion, Elegance peels away chin, cheek, and face – beauty and delicacy give way to reality and truth. It is not about the face of Elegance anymore – how could it be when Dirt himself is faceless – now it is about two people, formerly known as Dirt and Elegance, who sit under a tree somewhere in a park past the bridge, looking at each other for the first time. Now they don’t “face” each other; all they do is be.
And as I, the Spectator, walk away from the whole fiasco, I reach up, peel, and toss my face into the pile of retro-faces. I feel the rush of fresh air on my “cheeks”, and though the story goes on and on for all eternity, the Spectator gets buried under retro-face after retro-face, and must therefore cease telling that which he can no longer see.
Just face it.
Mendel Jacobson is a 23-year-old writer, poet and journalist working for The Algemeiner Journal. Mendel’s education has found him in New York, Budapest and Jerusalem and he has been blogging for close to 3 years at jakeyology.blogspot.com
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.