Tonight I was having a cigarette on Bowery outside a congee restaurant where I was having a drink with an old friend who’s in town for a couple days and there were all these sheets of paper in the street, like someone had dumped a box of loose leaf. They were blowing around and I thought about that window washing article that was in the New Yorker recently, about the guy seeing a whole connected stack of printer paper blow out a window of the Empire State and fly into the air like a dragon. The paper on Bowery was everywhere, whipping up in the lion wind, and I paused for a second and tried to make it an American Beauty moment, to realize the loveliness and solemnity of some paper roiling in the air in the Monday dark. But I quickly realized that was dumb, and that maybe in a general sense I should stop trying to find signs of things, of hushed literary moments of beauty, everywhere I look. So I put my cigarette out and went inside, as unpoetic as anything else. Sometimes it’s just paper in the street.

  Richard Lawson
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