Friday, February 22, 2013

working girls

 THE working girls in the morning are going to work--
     long lines of them afoot amid the downtown stores
     and factories, thousands with little brick-shaped
     lunches wrapped in newspapers under their arms.
Each morning as I move through this river of young-
     woman life I feel a wonder about where it is all
     going, so many with a peach bloom of young years
     on them and laughter of red lips and memories in
     their eyes of dances the night before and plays and
Green and gray streams run side by side in a river and
     so here are always the others, those who have been
     over the way, the women who know each one the
     end of life's gamble for her, the meaning and the
     clew, the how and the why of the dances and the
     arms that passed around their waists and the fingers
     that played in their hair.
Faces go by written over: "I know it all, I know where
the bloom and the laughter go and I have memories,"
     and the feet of these move slower and they
     have wisdom where the others have beauty.
So the green and the gray move in the early morning
     on the downtown streets.

 --"Working Girls," Carl Sandburg.

I ride the subway with pretty girls, with sleek ponytails and high boots and red pea coats, so many beautiful girls in one subway car -- the odds shouldn't be this good to have this much bloom of youth in one contained space, one moment, one 7:05 train hurtling towards the city. They have, to steal from Mr. Sandburg, a peach bloom of young years on them, a certain undeniable blush. They always have pea coats. They always wear boots. They always have long hair, pretty hair, down to their waist or past their shoulders. They're going to work at ad agencies and magazines and real estate offices, going to write or answer phones or fill out spreadsheets, and at night I imagine they go out and dance or laugh or order tall glasses of wine, and I hear them talk to each other on the subway as if in a different language. I'm curious, I admit, and I steal glances to those standing or sitting around me -- admiring the earrings, the silken scarf, the cream-colored coat.

 It reminds me so much of Sandburg's Working Girls, except as I move with them, balance the train car's shuttling movement and pour off the train with them, wait next to them on the street, I know we're going to the same place, but I can't help but feel I'm part of the gray stream, not the green, and I wonder when I ever was part of the green, and if I ever could be again.


  1. As someone older and grey, I can tell you that you are in the peach stream, my love. And not merely because of your youth but because you are.

    I was never peach. Yet I'm a master at pretending to be peach. There is no more wearying experience than to be grey and blending yourself into the peach. The colors just don't mix well. Grey paint in a peach tube.

  2. Kat has sais it perfectly. You ARE a peach. Although I'm not much older than you (I don't think) I feel gray as well. I feel as though I've missed the green-peach moments of life and instead have to jump into the gray stream because, afetr all, isn't that where the 28 year olds are supposed to be?

  3. I agree with all that has been said in the above comments. I know I'm gray, but I don't mind so much as one might think. You're a peach, though, no doubt about that! :)

  4. At some spots in a river, the green and grey inevitably get mixed together. Even from a very young age, I've always been a mixture of green and grey. And I think you are too.

  5. Gray? GRAY, PEOPLE? I refuse to be gray, I refuse to be on the brink of 30 and whining that my life is over and I'm OLD. (My love of gin and early bed times - still not old, just practical!) Much respect to all the bloggin' love above, but I've actually loved getting older - not that I really understand anything better, but I think back to the dramatic little brat I used to be (she shows up every once in a while during a staff meeting gone far too long and I'm hungry)... and I just have come to learn to appreciate life a little better and not waste time on things that make me feel inadequate or upset.

    That said, I love Sandburg, crazy old man that he was... and gray and green are two my favorite colors. Which doesn't make you feel any better, I'm sure, but I know you're not fishing for compliments here. But I will agree with Yve that I think you're equal parts gray + green, and the palette suits you delightfully, my dear.

  6. I grew up in an era where woman worked because they felt they had to prove themselves. It seems so weird to me when my daughter talks about staying home once she has kiddos.

  7. Man, LOVE Working Girls. Such anticipation and excitement. I refuse to be grey, I'm sorry. Such a dull colour and I do dye my hair so I can pretend to be peach a little longer. Not that I really like peach either. Some shades of green are lovely, can I be aquamarine? Or a lovely deep red? *sigh*


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