hanoi moment / by patrick carpenter

she slips her bamboo and basket scale and goes inside the lunch spot. she finds a plastic chair, the small plastic chairs that are vietnam, the kind that have foreigners sharing head space with their knees, and she brings it back out for the old man. he slides to sit, and she squats near him. together, they are both no more than thigh-high to a pedestrian, and they move slowly in their own space while the motorbikes rush frantic and self-absorbed. you lose his face in his helmet when he brings the bowl up to eat the rice. you could lose this picture of the two just by thinking of something else. it is precious or unspectacular - like so many other instances of life being art - and available only to the voyeur or those who search to prove their faith in the wonder of the calm within the human storm. these two, nearly invisible, have emerged from the wreckage, from the curse of living in interesting times.

p. carpenter