wind over ears we sped along on steel-framed bikes
tracing the profile of the coast
cold north water pulled down warming spring air
and met at the narrow list of pavement we rode on
built up from sea level raised to a peak like a striped mound in a plowed field
The Balkan in my neighborhood, I give him small amounts of money a few
times a week, it’s not what you think. A lot of people do this. About his wife,
he tells me he has none. My daughter, he sees her smile a flash flood,
always gives her a cookie. His word is börek, translates as ‘savory pastry’
pronounced “boo-wreck”. For this I gladly give him money. Spinach and feta.
Bigger than your hand, hot from the oven. With meat or cheese, pasta layers,
flaky dough. He works 6 days a week. He was taking a nap in the park a few
years ago, we were there eating homemade sticky cake. I offer him some, he
rigorously declines. Does he recognise me? Was it inappropriate?
My 39th birthday was spent in the airport, but walking down Herengracht I thought, “Happy Birthday.” Not too excited being here. Looks like just another New York City to me. Of course, it’s dark. We’ll see what daylight brings.
Extracts from the Ridiculous American: A Just Plain Strange One-Sided Correspondence