Postcard prose - Issue 19 | December 2013

How to Cross the Widest Highway in the World

by Maryann Ullmann

(9 de Julio, Buenos Aires, Argentina)

Tell yourself that though this is no mere road, you are no mere chicken. Think like the Great Explorers. Consider the Old World, and the New. Pull out the winder from your watch in order to freeze time, for you will need all of it in the world. Look to the light but do not rely on the light. Look left for oncoming taxis, and ascertain drunk drivers by the wobbliness of their trajectories. Let them pass. Hold your breath. Sprint across the first lane to the narrow concrete meridian. Pause. Brace yourself. The next lane is wider. Eight remain.

Walk briskly across the second (you will be stared at if you run) and cling to the shrubbery of the next meridian. Join a crowd for the safe, slow crossing of the third stream of four lanes, like a mob of fish holding sway against the current. Stop to smell the soft violet jacarandas in the third meridian and listen to the waves of traffic crash. Breathe. Wait for the light.

Mosey across the next few lanes with your hands in your pockets and whistle. Do not speed your pace when the light turns. Laugh and wave when the drivers yell at you, call you an hijo de puta. Know that they will speed up to within an inch of your life, that they will whip you with their wind. Live on the edge of your mortality.

Reach the wide central plaza, look up and squint at the not-so-very-grandiose phallic obelisk with the sun splayed behind its tip and think for a moment of ancient Egypt and its demise. Drop a few coins into the palm of a begging child, whichever one you please; they all know each other, they will share.

Leap across the remaining lanes with the joyful attainment of infinity. Do not allow the pedestrians blind with hurry to mow you down, for you can see. Cast an evil eye on the Burger King and McDonald’s that now confront you on this far shore. Consider, what was it all for?


About the author

Maryann Ullmann is currently the Out of the Forge Writer-in-Residence in Braddock, PA and holds an MFA in Fiction at Chatham University where she served as the 2011 Margaret Whitford Fellow. Her work has appeared in Cultural Survival Quarterly, Halfway Down the Stairs, Permafrost, and Prime Number, among others. She traipses restlessly around the globe with an imaginary llama named Svenz who feeds on alfalfa and dulce de leche. Her most stable home is maryannullmann.com.

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