“You have beautiful brown eyes.”
She has been staring at the air, gazing away from Sylvia Plath, a universe on horseback.
Suddenly, he is there. Standing only for an instant. Fifties, maybe older. Wire rimmed glasses. Short-cropped beard. Brown tweed jacket and matching cap. An umbrella hanging on his arm. Carrying three books. And, as though he has noticed another title he finds intriguing — “You have beautiful brown eyes”. He continues down the row, a slender silhouette between Classic Fiction and English Essays.
Stepping left, he is gone.
She does not blush. Anyway, there was not time. ‘Beautiful brown eyes.’ Nothing suggestive. No flirtation. A statement of the facts as he saw them. The words hang in the air like the man’s scent, clean and true.
A doubtful shake of her head –almost imperceptible– she returns to Ariel.
Then, some night, standing at the car door, working the key into the lock, she glances at the black window glass. Her reflection by street light, dark but unmistakably her. In the night she remembers…
You have beautiful brown eyes.
She settles into the seat and adjusts the mirror. She looks into her own eyes. Fiercely she decides.
She will rise.
She will become.
A brittle fall morning, she stands on the sidewalk. Concrete and steel reaching for the sky–she, tiny at its feet. Doubts flash and thunder.
She enters and finds the restroom. Standing alone by the mirror–you have beautiful brown eyes. She goes to the elevator. She rises.
Again and again, the tireless, wind-words are at her back,
Fading — always returning.
Until, year by year, borrowed courage is bought and shelved–a well-worn companion.
She leaves the library, David Whyte in her shoulder bag.
On the sidewalk, near the book return, she passes a raggedy girl sitting cross-legged. The carboard sign reads, “Lioness in training. Anything helps.”
The brown-eyed woman pauses for an instant in front of the raggedy girl who looks up expecting treasure.
“You have beautiful blue eyes, young lioness.” And, stepping left around the corner, she is gone.