April 18, 2004

Iris

The subway walls in New York are embedded with tile mosaics that spell out the names of the stops. These mosaics were created long ago, by forgotten people, and are routinely, numbingly, beautiful. The individual tiles, now faded, resemble irises; they have the same patternless pattern of colored flecks.

This morning while pacing the subway platform, I noticed the tiles around the words Eastern Parkway. My eye was drawn to the s in Eastern. Looking closer I saw that the curved edges of the s were constructed from broken fragments of tiles. Once, long ago, someone stood here and cemented these tiny shards in place.

That’s all. While pacing I noticed some tiles and stopped to investigate. Then the train came.