Neighboring Escape

At the tall building next to ours, someone has decorated the fire-escape landing.  Just one person, finding the bareness and sameness of the iron stairway intolerable, has found it necessary to festoon her small corner with an exuberant melange of fake flowers, bird cages, and all-weather rugs.  Spring, summer, fall, winter: it is the same and blooming in all seasons, a ready conversation piece—or message—for the hundreds of neighbors who see it daily.

This is what I see when I look out the windows in the early morning: a lone figure, out on the far end of the landing, smoking, and looking off to the right in a contemplative way.

Even though I see this person every morning, and no doubt he sees me, I have no idea who he is and wouldn’t recognize him if we passed on the street.  It constitutes urban neighborliness, anyway.

It would mark a sad new epoch if the flowers were to disappear.

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