Because the sun has yet to rise, the building is obscure. White light radiates from buzzing light bulbs and hits the freshly painted white brick. It also touches the trash cans and pale, smooth concrete. Besides the buzzing light and the occasional car, the only sound emitting from the window is the wind. It’s like a city of formless people, casually moving toward their jobs or returning home from a graveyard shift. The wind rustled at 5:13am, the lids of the trash cans were jolted and shook as the formless rushed passed, anxious to reach their respective destinations—home to the people they loved or work to support who(m) they loved. Now it’s 5:35am and the brick, the trash cans, the pale smooth concrete are all covered in a Bronx twilight.
The brick has been painted white and because the white isn’t covered in black it looks clean. White-washed. Dimples and depressions are still visible so if I ran my finger over the brick I would observe my hand afterward and find no dirt, no trace of what I’ve done, but I would have felt the brick in my hand and known that no amount of paint can hide what something is.
Fire can. Fire and pressure can change something into something else. So can the wind. With enough time, the formless people can sand the brick into something as smooth as the concrete on which it stands. Water too, could shape the dimpled and dented brick into something different all together, but this to would take time. Fire would be quick. Within a day everything, all the trash and the brick and glass, everything that makes up the building would be left to ash for the formless people to carry away.
Luckily, there is no fire and it is 5:45am and I wonder if twilight has lifted.
The sound of wind is louder and I wonder if this is the rush hour of the formless. I wonder if I am intruding on their space, their time in this world, by being awake at their hour, for being awake for the past four hours. I wonder if we have an uneasy treaty, the humans and the formless, and the only reason we have windstorms and hurricanes is because people like me infringe on their time. The storm is their form of rebellion. Give us time on the planet too, they say, the world is ours as well.
We humans haven’t got the memo. The sound of cars begins to increase and I hear a plane push the formless out of its way. The sky has a purple-orange hue and I wonder how much of the purple and orange is due to humans and the buzzing light bulbs we place along the street to help us see. How much orange is really just the sky refusing to accept light from below and pushing it back into human eyes, punishing us for our need to see and roam the earth long after she has decreed it time to rest. Our punishment is purple light, colored with orange, prohibiting us from watching the stars.