Chalk on Pavement

By Tami Mohamed Brown

September 22, 2014

Chalk on Pavement

At the far end of the empty park-and-ride lot, a silver Toyota jerks its way across the yellow painted parking lines in starts and stops.

Someone, presumably, is learning to drive.

Sprawled sideways on the ground, I pull an oversized piece of pink sidewalk chalk across the uneven cement, my hand echoing the jerks of the car in an attempt to carefully form letters on a square of pavement next to the bus shelter, the rough concrete cold under my hands.

The car pulls up to me, next to the words I've written on the pavement. I stand and wipe my dusty fingers.

“What are you up to over here?” asks a man through the car window.

I haven’t thought about why I've started this practice of rising early to leave quotes lying on the ground in wait of readers.

My answer--its preciousness, its awkwardness--surprises me.

“I’m leaving a love note. For anyone who’s looking.”

“It’s Emily Dickinson,” I add, blushing.

A girl gets out of the car, door left ajar, to examine the pavement.

“Morning without you is a dwindled dawn.”

Although they are not my own words, I feel exposed.

“It’s beautiful,” the girl confirms, and we stand, studying the ground as if it were the shore of the Pacific Ocean, or the Taj Mahal. As if it held something far more permanent than words written sloppily in chalk on an early morning sidewalk.

 

Photo "Sidewalk Chalk" provided by Kate Ter Haar, via Flickr creative commons license.

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