At the public library in my town there’s a truck that’s parked perpetually outside. It’s an older one, with a camper shell that used to be white, and it is absolutely, completely, filthy. Beyond reason, beyond imagination, it is created from filth. Inside it, up to the ceilings, filling the windows, the camper shell, the every tiny space, is a stinking pile of dripping and rotting garbage. The driver’s seat trash is pulled away, has been bodily removed to make way for a human body to reside in.

Inside the library there is a woman, who wanders aimlessly among the book shelves. She clutches protectively at a cup of free coffee from the library, and leaves behind her a heavy cloud of tangible smell. This trail weaves in and out along the books and stays discoverable  for long after she is gone, a stinking dragon woven into the library day and night. That trail, far from tarnishing the experience, gives the woman a mystic feel. I’ve never heard her speak, I don’t know her thoughts or sensibilities. Though in ways she seems inhuman, these qualities also  draw sympathy from those that see her. She is not mean, nor unpleasant, not in a way she ever voices. For the most part she is quiet, and calm, and strikingly gentle as she sways along the aisles.

Visibly, she is drenched not only in smell, but in clothing. There are inches of skin exposed along her entirety, and these are aged and fragile and shaking. I don’t remember her face, but her clothing and form remind me of an old photograph; stained, and faded, and unchanging. Her dresses and long coats of faded pinks and browns make her seem a bit to float, a spirit or apparition. I wish she finds comfort in small things, that her days be devoid of hardship, that people come to enjoy her company and she enjoy theirs, and that she escape that ratty vehicle abode and come to find asylum in a clean place.


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