Mar 11, 2004

Ball of the Absurd

I stand under the street light with my duffle bag at my feet and read on an Ave in Seattle waiting for Jeff to come on the 9:36 bus. I read, standing there, as if it were an act of protest, yet quiet and I am only waiting.

Down the slope of the street, rolling bouncing bop bop bop, comes a basketball. It rolls past me, rolls under the police car idling at the light, sticking under the cruiser. No children come, no children appear here, no one racing to retrieve. There is no source for the ball at all and from all evidence it is without cause, a miracle a spawning of the street of the hill of Seattle itself.

The officer, hearing something, looks up, looks in his mirror. I advert my eyes. At the green light he pulls away, slowly, loosing the ball into the street, resuming the roll of its wandering.

A woman jogging along the street stops the ball. She stops, body settling into stillness, holding the ball in her arms, lost dog hurt child, and squints up the dusky street.

The officer stops. Car pausing in a turn not taken as he leans out toward the woman. Where did that come from, he asks through the passenger window. Demand masking his own confusion, making it all hers. Down the street she says, not knowing how to believe, not expecting belief, not understanding what was. She bends a little, letting the ball shift to one hand as if to bowl it uphill, return it to the children, the children who aren’t there.

She straightens, looks into the empty dusk, looks to the officer. Just set it on the corner, he says, and she does. Relieved of unknowing and uncertainty and incoherence and returned safely to her jog. The officer straightens, and pulls out pulls forward knowing it’s taken care of, not explained not understood but taken care of and Not A Problem.

They leave the corner empty, to me and my book under the street light with the ball. Me, my story, and a ball deserted for less absurd things. The unaccountable abandoned.

I laugh in the empty street, and put the ball of the absurd with my duffle bag.