An Essayby Pia Z. Ehrhardt
You are yards ahead, picking your way over ice, every step specific, private. We are walking to the New York subway on a frigid day to see a play, in the dark because the sun sets at 4:30 p.m. Your boots sport lug soles while my soles are leather, smooth, and a risk. Where is the arm you usually offer? You’re seventy now, and you worry even in sunny weather about falling, but people don’t fall when they are thinking about falling, only when they forget to worry. Or forget to grasp the one behind you, your love, who tries to catch up while in her mind she’s leaving you. Ten years ago, it would have been for the dream of a fresh life of surefooted men, but now I imagine leaving you before you leave me so I’m not alone if something happens to you. Because what other dangers lie ahead? I am ten years younger, and our age gap will begin to narrow (old is old), even if we stay in good health. Do you expect to live the rest of your life with just me?
Blasts of wind deposit snow from roofs and car hoods on the ground, and again the doormen emerge, scraping their shovels. A parked car flips on headlights, revs, but only spins its tires. I call out to you, ask you to wait, and you turn and remember, of course. When will doubt not cascade through me? My nose is cold. Couples grip each other; they may fall but they will go down together.