It’s classic, almost a cliché, a picture book place straight out of the glossy pages of a coffee table album. But there is more, and what is more is more of a secret nature, and the height of what is more is higher, and the depth is deeper. Here is the unpaved alley with its one room dwellings hewn from stone almost as if they had been carved rather than erected--no glass in the windows, no door in the doorway, no bathroom aside from the field out back. Here are the children I meet every day on my way down the alley to the Circle K store, sitting on the entry step and wall, intent on a game or marbles among the puddles, who rush forth to meet me on sight, shrieking hello, Mister, hello, hello, hello, overjoyed at having mastered this much of the English language. Here, further down, is the man who eternally repairs an old VW, and his buddies who watch as they smoke Kreteks, and his wife holding his baby by the Marigolds which spill over the wall to the brim of a bucket filled with ancient black oil.
What is the beauty that breaths behind the glossy page. It is in the lettering on the last wall before the alley lets onto the street, in the words which hang from the crawling ivy, bright, insistent, unknown.