“Bed of Grass” by Anita Ngai
Bed of Grass The 38 stops just long enough for me to see him. On the patch of grass serving as median next to the bus stop at Geary and Park Presidio, a man sleeping curled up on his side. From the clothes, it is hard to tell why the gods have left him there. The reason is always similarly different. Layers covers him. A quilted, navy blue grayish jacket, a frayed flannel, burgundy grayish throw, a (too) tight wool, black grayish beanie. He is the most peaceful object on the whole 5.8 miles of Geary, or at least the most stationary. The winds blowing at the lush trees, loose pieces of food wrappers and slurpee cups not in their homes have no effect on him. I know it must be like sleeping on a waterbed because, you see, my converse shoes sank just so slightly each step of the way into the damp, damp soil when I ran into the hospital this morning by cutting across the lawn, after the long expected call to tell me that Uncle too is asleep but not waking up. Look at that man, is this a bad neighborhood, whispers someone (perhaps a tourist) on the bus to her companion. We all scan with our discerning eyes for empty beer bottles, used syringes, or even traces of spoiled food, but nothing, except the patchy patch of grass. Or is he sick? Rest well, mister, lay still until the strength is there to face the gust and storms of the world and to continue the onward journey.
Anita Ngai was born in Hong Kong, and grew up in Canada and the US. Her writing has appeared in Imprint, Lit Crawl, Talking River and various architecture magazines. While not writing, she works as a business executive in a San Francisco-based technology company.