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the girl from baku by russell bittner


t h e   g i r l   f r o m   b a k u   :  6

:  r u s s e l l   b i t t n e r


At the laundromat, my nose gets tweaked by odors of detergent and fabric softener. Ears, meanwhile, are whetted by wooshing sounds, while eyes spy neatly-folded towels, shirts, bed sheets, and ladies' dainties. The olfactory, aural and visual ensemble knocks me over like a cinnamon bun, and I'm once again back to soft memories of GfB and of her cleanliness.

So clean she was. Almost too clean. I like a bit of musk, a hint of femininity. I'm an animal after all. And if my nose doesn't flare up when a woman passes, it's only because I've learned to keep that little tic under wraps. I'll still check out that woman's calves as we climb the stairs from subway platform to street level. Oh, how I'll check 'em out! But in the meantime, I'll keep my flares and thoughts in petto.

I decide to go for a walk in the park, and so sludge through two blocks of dull gray and duller brown – the drub drab of Sunset Park asphalt and concrete – only to enter into a small, celebratory world of green.

"Bud," I whisper to myself. Followed by "bloom, blossom" a sprig-whisper louder. Spring, I find, explicates the plosives.

The first season of the new year is dependable, regular, right as rain. No one should bustle in spring. No one should have to cut logs, push paper, clean toilets in spring. We're animals, we are, and ought to be outside, free and unfettered. Spring is the time of year at which we should bop. Spring is the whole burst of being – while summer, fall and winter are mere bellhops to spring – the real deal. The worst thing in spring? To be alone, mateless, matchless – and without a sprightly, sprawling, springtime partner.

Which may explain why women's hems rise; neon glows brighter; timecards grow trivial; exercise classes grow excessively expensive; and couples grope fecklessly, then recklessly, then wreck on ridiculous shoals.

I miss her. I wonder… does it show?


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