I am jogging down Havelock Road,
eyes set on the pavement
as it hugs a curve into Outram.
On my left, the hotels are dark,
unsighted beasts who have lost
their purpose to live and have chosen
to hibernate in resignation.
Some days I imagine they are chasing me
and it makes me run a little faster.
The day is at the cusp of dusk, between
light and darkness, when the hues turn
misty-gold and the sky unlocks in Pantone
possibilities. Today it is a spread
of soft vermillion, peach and pink,
a painter’s improbable background
when so much of what we remember
of the sky is an intense blue, searing,
bounded by skyscrapers.
Down the unblocked length of the road,
a vista opens up and I slow down
to be serenaded. It is not every day
that I get to see the sunset, after all.
And that is when I see her.
A young girl, standing on the traffic island,
a shrubbery-strewn, overgrown triangle
bordered by a low barrier. She stands
on the uneven sidewalk, a brown paper bag
on the ground a short distance from her.
She is holding up a large, pink heart, perfectly
shaped, clearly hand-cut. She is wearing
a sun dress that’s the exact colour of the heart.
Facing the Holiday Inn hotel, she moves
forward and backward, trying to hold up her sign
to show the writing on the other side.
I make out the word ‘love,’ briefly. It is impossible
to see who she’s waving her heart at.
The hotel has an impenetrable brown facade,
giving nothing away. The windows are tinted
by distance and long hours, where leisure
turns into labour and the hope that one
always has breath and the strength
to look out for love. And now I stop jogging
completely, because this is all at once
touching and futile, this gesture of kindness
as fleeting as the sunset. But this feeling
is kind of pink, the same pink as the TraceTogether
token that nestles in the waist pocket of my shorts,
a small, rectangular beeping pink that connects me
to everyone else, reminding us of the city,
its closeness and how we are never far away
enough from each other, except when we are
separated by the width of two roads, hotel windows
that won’t open and a sunset that comes too soon.