I cross the railroad bridge with my bicycle on my shoulder in February cold settled over rails and ties, refuse, ragged trees poles, backs of buildings, its beauty a funtion of pain, effort, and lack of sleep. Below, the creek runs muddy through town. Soggy clothes cling to its banks, a lady’s old sweater, a sock, something in a paper sack, garbage tumbled among barb-wire vines. Beauty is a function of pain and effort; otherwise, why would we work hard, drive ourselves to 11 PM, get up for work at 5:30? Beauty is a function of pain and the threat of pain. Above the shining tracks, ahead, a piece of unobstructed dawn shows peach, behind, a piece of night, blue, washed out into pale sky.

23 February 1987