The Interview

You've done it all wrong. You should have interviewed the Tomb Effigy of a Lady. She’s not a native, but she’s been in her rent-controlled enclave of the Cloisters since the 50s and the stories she could tell... well.

You should have interviewed the lights that blink on and off on the D train late at night and the man who stops in the middle of the street and howls at women. Interview them together and in their pauses they will show you exactly who they are.

You should have interviewed the buttons that may or may not change the lights from red to green—they have been pushed by every child in the city.

And yes—yes, of course you should have interviewed that woman who sits on every front stoop with her left hand on her knee and a fan in the other on close summer nights, turning her head and recalling the shopfront that used to be. I’m sure no one’s told you to interview her.

But under no circumstances should you interview the following:

The waterfall at the north end of Central Park—she finds it hard to say what she really means.

Or the landmarked lovers inlaid atop the Metro Theater on 99th—they have grown too lonesome and thin, too hungry for attention and they will tell you any lie they think you want to hear.

And whatever you do, do not climb from fire escape to fire escape to interview the sigh ebbing from each lit and unlit window, each music box of breath and electrical hum sitting at the kitchen table, one hand to its forehead, the other holding the phone close to its mouth, close to its ear, saying softly, “My love—”

Elana Seplow