Blackout by featured artist Jamila Clarke
BEAUTIFUL UP HERE
I pull up to the grocery store in my cab
tired from the sensory-overload
of driving all day through this manic
and murderous maze of a city.
No cab driver likes grocery runs
because they are hardly ever going far
people who take cabs to the grocery store
are almost always poor
and pissy because their ice cream
I call the fare but he doesn’t answer
and I get out and go grumbling
I almost bump into this HUGE young guy
as I holler:
“TAXI FOR LARRY!”
And he says,
“That’s me, I’m Larry.”
He is at least 6 foot 8
could easily smash me
like a bug.
He’s got a blind man’s cane
and a little bag of groceries
and he’s smiling.
“Oh,” I say, “Pardon. Can I take
He gives it to me and I
talk to him all the way to the cab
to give him the way.
“Watch the curb there.”
When he is in the cab he tells me where
he lives and it is a little farther
than the usual 5 dollar grocery run.
It is a nice sunny day and he has
a blind man’s kind but twisted
look on his round
pale face as he sits in the back.
“Nice day,” I say.
He tells me the directions to his
house in a very precise manner
that I appreciate
because many people are vague in their
expression and directions
it’s easy to get lost
or take a stupid route.
We go up a hill into the desert
and the cactus are there and the ocotillo
with their little orange flowers
because it’s rained recently.
“Damn,” I say, “It sure is beautiful
I cringe after I say it
thinking it uncouth to say that to a blind man
who has never had the pleasure
of gazing at this desert loveliness
or the view of Tucson below
or the birds flying
in the morning.
But he doesn’t take offense.
He just says,
“Yes, it sure is beautiful.”
At his desert house he says,
“There’s a palo verde tree there in front,
do you see it?”
He pays with a 20 dollar bill which he fishes
carefully out of his wallet
and which is folded in such a way
to let him know it’s a 20
and I give him change
and he seems to trust me
not to rip him off
not to give him ones
instead of fives.
Then he gets out, thanks me, and feels
his way to his front door
with his cane and his little sack
and finds the doorway
which he barely fits through
and then shuts the door
I close my eyes
for a second
and it is quiet
sitting there in my cab
under the palo verde tree
on top of the hill.