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Video from Suzanne’s Worldwide Anniversary Tour


September 18, 2018
Words

6.6.07

June 6, 2007

Hi guys!! It is thrilling to read about everybody’s reactions to the album and hearing about your hunts to find it in the country you are in!! For a while I will be sending a portrait a day instead of a diary entry since I have no time right now! I hope you are enjoying the new website! I am! I look forward to seeing you guys on the road.

With continued affection,
Suzanne

Words

Suzanne’s Childhood Poems

February 9, 2000

Suzanne at age 8, Alyson and Matthew
(Photo by Eric Maristany)

By Myself

I stand by myself
Not lonely at all.
I listen to the little birds
Beckon and call.

I stand by myself
By the pond, with the fish
And now I don’t even
Have one little wish

Except to be by myself
Each and every day
And come down to the woods
Where the little deer play.

(Age 9)

The Wind Fairies

The wind fairies laugh and sing and dance
They come out every time they get a chance.
When the wind fairies come out they really have a ball
And they come at the Wind Queen’s each and every call.

(Age 9)

The Rain Sweeps…

THE RAIN SWEEPS across the windowpane
The muddy green trees blow with the wind
And a cloud of gloom settles everywhere.
But I don’t feel the gloom, oh, no
Only the drama of the rain.
And peace.

Secret

It is a secret
A secret, an unspoken
Vow between silent friends.
I can never speak of this again
And so, you will never know.

Ocean

Waves
Pounding high
The white foam
Gliding
Then silence
So sudden
It shocks me
And all it still…

Ocean

Ocean
Grey, white
Pounding, rising, pulling
Excitement, rhythm, fear, bravery
Ocean

Haiku

Peace is part of love
But love is not all peaceful
It can be quite fierce.

I Like…

I LIKE him a lot
As a matter of fact, yes,
I almost love him.
We are friends, yet something more
It can hardly be put into words.

Can My…

CAN MY words express
The way I feel about you
Gentle, soft, yet strong
Willing to fight for you and with you
Can it be called love?

I Look…

I LOOK outside
Darkness answers.
White snowflakes drift
Aimlessly, towards nowhere.
Rich white
Velvet black
Completes the night.

I Think Of My Dog…

I THINK OF MY DOG
As I lie on the grass in the rain
And I wish that he
Were alive again and here
My adorable, cute dog.

To Barry McLean

Do you know
What I’ve been through
Trying to reach
And get through to you?

I like you a lot
So let’s be friends
But let’s stop there
Before that ends.

If we get closer
Like we are now
You get sort of mean
I can’t really say how.

Not really mean
You just ignore
Me and my feelings
Not like before.

So let’s break up
(Going steady, I mean)
From Suzanne Vega
To Barry McLean.

(Late Spring 1971 – Age 11)

Written After A Triumphant Fight

I’m the baddest girl in the world
I’m as bad as Super Fly
and I don’t need coke to get me high.
I can beat you, Jack
and you better get back
when the Vega’s come around.
We’ll kick your ass, and make it last,
I got evil eye, and you sure gotta try
to put me on the ground.
I don’t play, hey, you know what I say
when I say it or pay.
I can stare you down,
make you crawl on the ground.
I’m action, no talk, when I say to you walk, I’m not the kind you can knock.
I use only my hands, no bottles for me
But I got plans, and you won’t go home free.
When I don’t smile, you know you’re in trouble
’cause I can get wild, I ain’t got no double.
I can make you cry, I can make you wanna die.
No one beat me yet, and they ain’t gonna get the chance.
I can take mine and the little folks at the same time.
I’m the baddest girl in the world.

(December, 1972 – Age 13)

Words

Suzanne’s Diary Pages – Sunday, April 29, 1990

February 9, 2000

Notebook pages written In Liverpool

by Suzanne Vega

…the bells are clanging and clamouring from what appears to be a church now they have stopped, ring twice — now the ceremony is over — it had gone on for a good five or ten minutes. two clocks look into my hotel room and from the window I see a small river — is this the river Mersey that Andy once told me about? I thought of him today as the bus rolled into town — how homesick he was for Liverpool, for the big clock that always told the same time — where is it? for the river Mersey which, if this is it, is much smaller and browner than the Hudson which I am homesick for right now — the light is pale and thin here like the inhabitants of this country — a pale watery light not unpleasant but not substantial — Here the bells have started again — it begins at the top of the scale and hurls itself down in a mad clamor over and over again in an uneven rhythm

there must be some mad boy in the belfry hurling himself across the ropes like a hunchback. perhaps he loves someone who doesn’t love him. perhaps he is remembering an old lost love . now the scale is confused and is sounds like a carnival of bells, a dull peculiar melody, with a lilt but no reason to it. now it returns to the scale from the beginning over and over from the top down to the bottom the low notes hitting with a dark clanging resonance the top bells more cheerful — besides this banging and clamouring there is no other sound, no shouts, traffic, people, nothing except the stone, the pale sunlight, the small brown river and the bells on Sunday afternoon.

This morning I lay awake from four am to 730 am. a long treacherous stretch of time to think things over again. Unfortunately lately I fall into idle daydreams about his brown skin, open generosity, blunt…

Words

“The Songwriter’s Exchange” by Suzanne Vega

February 9, 2000

1982

Of particular interest to the songwriters in the Village is the Monday night songwriters exchange, which has been going on for five years now at the Cornelia Street Cafe.

Every Monday night, beginning at about 7 P.M., songwriters gather and sign up to sing a song they have written the previous week. The rules of the workshop are simple. You are asked to attend one Monday night without participating, just to observe, if you are here for the first time. After that you can sign up to sing every Monday night if you like, as long as your song was written, or at least revised in the previous week. Each week someone volunteers to be the next week’s host. The workshop runs no later than 9:30, usually with two or three sets in the evening.

There are many types of songwriters who meet here: intellectual songwriters with intricate lyrics; jazz- influenced guitar players with less complicated lyrics; basic old-fashioned folk-song writers, and song-singers with no music accompaniment at all. The cafe is a forum; a place to hear what people are thinking about and being influenced by; a place to meet other writers and talk and listen to them. Some people come once or a few times and never return; others come faithfully for years. If a person comes consistently and works hard, they are not overlooked.

It has been nearly two years now since I came to my first Cornelia Street Monday night. At first the idea of getting up and singing a newborn song to a group of other possibly more talented and critical songwriters was enough to keep me away for months I felt sick when I finally attempted it but it’s not really like that. The songwriters exchange is meant to be non-competitive; you don’t get criticism unless you specifically ask for it (usually from your friends), although people will comment if they particularly like a song. The worst that can happen is no reaction at all. This is not a hoot; this is not the place to come and try to impress the management with a high-powered rendition of one of the latest top 40 hits. (The woman upstairs will pound like hell if you do. She pounds anyway.) It is not performance-oriented , but is aimed at providing an atmosphere in which to perfect your craft of songwriting.

The cafe was started in 1977 by Robin Hirsch, who is responsible for the performing at the cafe; Raphaela Pivetta, who is responsible for the art; and Charles McKenna. Robin Hirsch came here fourteen years ago from London, with a background in English and Theater.

Since its opening, the cafe has been a success. It is open seven days a week, between 8 A.M. and 2 A.M. It’s a great place to work in small and atmospheric with white brick walls, and it is an art space as well, which means there are usually interesting paintings, sculptures, drawings, or photographs for sale on the walls. It was expanded recently, and now has a separate room for special Sunday night performances and the Monday night workshops.

As I write this, there is piano music in the background from the radio, and people talking as they wait for this Sunday night’s performance to begin. In February, there was a prose reading, a bawdy puppet show, comedy, and the latest version of a new play.

And there is food. Bread and butter with jam is a dollar, a glass of wine is $1.25; there are quiches and croissants and cafe au lait and mulled wine and fruit. Also cheese, and soup… I could go on. It’s a little expensive, but very, very nice.

Playing here on a Monday night won’t help you get a gig at Folk City or the Other End or the Bottom Line, but it is an important part of this supportive community important to the spirit and souls of people who are trying to create and not just repeat what has been done. The songs and singers are not always polished, and the material is usually highly personal. I don’t know of any other place like it anywhere. It has the atmosphere of the local meeting place of an old tribe or village, a gathering place for those with a song in their veins that they must express. And everyone is welcome.

Words

“Blue Sky And Blood On 10th Avenue” by Suzanne Vega

February 9, 2000

The New York Times Magazine

The following was originally printed in The New York Times Magazine on November 20, 1988, and reprinted in ‘Bullet in Flight’, a collection of Suzanne’s lyrics published in 1990 by Omnibus Press.
Copyright Omnibus Press, 1990
Copyright /Waifersongs Ltd.

Blue Sky And Blood On 10th Avenue

When I was growing up I spent five years in Spanish Harlem and ten years on the Upper West Side. The streets were always crowded with different types of of people: kids from the projects, white liberals, students from Columbia. But I didn’t hang out much. You could find me in my room, or in the park by the river. Facing south on an afternoon and seeing the angles of sunlight gave me a weird sense of orientation. As a child, I felt: “The sun is there. It’s high and on my right. I am here. Everything is O.K.” As an adult I had stopped going to the park on the weekends, and that feeling rarely, if ever, visited again.

So it was about 4 o’clock on a cold Sunday, and I was out walking downtown. At 10th Avenue and 14th Street, or thereabouts, suddenly the rest of the city fell away, and I felt that same weird sense of orientation. I was in the meat market area.

The buildings in front of me were long and low, and the sky seemed very wide and intensely blue. It was a shock after the relentless verticality of the city behind me. Because of the cobblestone streets, the tin doors with porthole windows like a ship’s kitchen, the ivy on the bricks, the river on my right, I thought for a minute I was somewhere else. Cannery Row, maybe.

It was quiet and still, with a lonely feeling. A strange landscape of cool, fat shadows and slices of dazzling sun on tin. Later, when I lived on Horatio street, where the meat market ends, I learned the neighborhood’s other moods and faces, but 4 o’clock on a Sunday afternoon is still my favorite time of day there.

If you look past the serene surface, you find clues to the violence beneath. The most obvious are the painted signs, worn and flaking: “Baby Lamb! Young Kid! Fancy Poultry!” “Breasts, Thighs, Hearts, Livers, Wings.” “Boxed Beef.” Words that in another context can be sensual, or tender, or playfully erotic, here read like pornography or skewered poetry.

The elevated tracks with their big metal beams seem to shelter this empty place. Pigeons roost under these beams, and fly freely where their relatives are slaughtered every day. Little rivers of blood run along the cracks in the sidewalk, mixing with the sawdust. Or your foot is surprised by a skid of animal fat, white and greasy.

It feels like an underworld. If you see anyone, it might be a man with a wool cap and a big belly and a cigar. He doesn’t want you looking at him or minding his business. There is an atmosphere of unseen deals, people watching and being watched, violence about to happen.

And at night when the meat shops close, the other “meat shops” open – the transvestites begin peddling after dark. What are they selling, exactly? I’m not sure. Things are displayed, discussed, bargained for and maybe sold in a quick sleight-of-hand; but you see it only from the corner of your eye, as you walk by fast or speed past in a car. Long, thin mincing men, swaybacked and fiercely feminine, parade on the corners, their skinny masculine legs tottering in high heels and ragged pantyhose. Sometimes there is a bonfire, and you see a few of them, with one womanly man dressed in what seems to be a bathing suit and a full-length fur coat, calling to you, laughing, preening, fixing his lipstick. The graffiti read: “Silence = Death.” “Linda, I love you. Frank.”

In the morning, though, the place bustles. That’s the time I’m least familiar with. It’s crowded with trucks and truckers-to get anywhere you wind and dodge your way through a thick traffic of men in bloody white aprons and slabs of meat swinging on hooks. By 2 in the afternoon it has settled down. By 4 o’clock it has regained the stoic feeling of an Edward Hopper painting, with calm cubes of color and long rectangular shadows, and a soft windy rustle of pigeons and the river.

Words

“The Open Hand Book” – Notes on her New Album by Suzanne Vega

February 9, 2000

Musician Magazine, 1991

“Tired Of Sleeping” is a song from the dream images. I find it weird to sing because it makes me feel sad, but I also feel that it’s one that I have to sing. Its a song of having intense dreams and wanting to wake up from them in your real life, as opposed to a deluded dream world where no one’s connecting. The “Oh Mom” lines aren’t specifically about birth. But probably there have been many times in my life when I felt that I was the child reassuring my mother that everything would be fine. I put the quote marks around “clean quilted heart” because the phrase was so clear in the dream. In the dream, the man was trying to prove his innocence, to show that he was pure. It’s a little strange, but it makes emotional sense to me. I trust that and go with that.

To me, “Men In A War” is about missing a piece of yourself, whether it’s a physical piece or a part of your will or spirit. I put the woman in the song because I wanted toshow these two people in opposite circumstances, both of them feeling incomplete. The man is feeling something he doesn’t have, and the woman is not feeling something she has.

“Rusted Pipe” is like “Language” from the last album. “Language is liquid” there and “Words are like water” here. And I’m rusted. The “creak” is like a faucet turning on. Basically, it comes down to feelings. Because as a child, I think I must have decided that feelings were impractical and not useful, so therefore you put them away for a while. It’s a song more about finding the story than telling it. But Paul Nelson’s reading of it – that it could be about a baby who wants to speak and walk but can’t do it yet – is accurate. Not in a literal sense, but to me, a song is like a piece of sculpture. You hammer at it from all angles until the pure thing is left in the middle. And then if it works from every angle, you know you’ve got something.

In “Book Of Dreams,” I wanted to write something about the way I wish things would be. Again, it has dream images, but they’re more like daydreams or fantasies. It’s me going, “What do I wish I could do?” Unlike the situation in “Institution Green,” your name will be called. And everybody is in my book of dreams. No one will be forgotten.

“Institution Green” could be about a mental institution, going to vote, a police station or waiting to get blood taken in a doctor’s office. The context isn’t so important. It’s whether I hit the emptional bull’s-eye that makes a difference to me. The actual events here are a combination of a doctor’s office and voting. When I was a kid, I’d go to the clinics with my mother. If you don’t have any money, you go to free clinics, which means you wait for hours. And it’s all dependent on this one person in charge, who, if she’s dropped your card on the floor or she’s having a bad day – well, you’ll wait forever. It’s extremely dehumanizing to feel that you’re just one of a million people, and that a lot of people have your last name and no one cares enough to pick you out. That’s where the rage comes in. You want to say, “I want to go in now,” because you’ve waited for hours and hours.

“Those Whole Girls (Run In Grace)” was inspired by the feeling of wanting to be whole and confident and complete. I was reading Annie Dillard’s An American Childhood , and she seemed so sure of her feelings. She seemed so different from the way I was as a child, when I always felt that I had to look two ways before I took a step. Also, I was playing with the language. I liked each word being one syllable. And the crunchiness of the consonants and the way the words felt in my mouth. I didn’t write the song with any malice or bitterness. It’s more that I would like to be that way one day.

“Room Off The Street” was originally called “Cuba.” It was what I imagined Cuba might feel like at some point. The feeling of giving your life for the cause, and how it incites all sorts of passions that don’t have to do with the politics but with the feeling in the air. The poster of the man with his hand in a fist was a recurring image in the posters we had at home.

“Big Space” is about the body being a network and finding the center. Then you think, what if there isn’t any center? Or what if you get there, and there’s nothing? Those were the fears I was trying to confront as I sat down to write this album. “Anger in a cold place” – that’s like, well, what do you hide when you put on the uniform to get through the day? What are the things you’re not acknowledging? What does the calm face hide? And it’s the feelings that you’re taking away. YOu just strip yourself of them, and you become not human – or wooden, as in “Wooden Horse (Caspar Hauser’s Song).” I guess as a kid, I felt like a thing sometimes. Or like an object. I felt sometimes that I wasn’t sure. As a child, it’s easy to get that confused. You look at a doll, and it seems to have a life. Then you look at yourself, and you seem not to be able to move.

Leonard Cohen’s “Who By Fire” was an influence on “Predictions.” One day, I was looking up a word or something, and I suddenly came across this weird list of ways that people have told the future. And each of these ways had its own name, its own -ology. I thought the images were so beautiful and pure. And all of these objects – the hatchet, the nails, the dough of cakes, the wax in water – are the kind of things you’d find around your house. I loved the idea of magic being contained in these everyday objects.

“50-50 Chance” is based on a real incident. Someone I’m close to had that experience last year. A suicide attempt. She’s okay now. She hasn’t tried it again.

“Pilgrimage” comes from an incense bowl. I’ve been a Buddhist since I was 16 – the Nichiren Shoshu sect. So every morning I chant and burn incense. It’s that linear thing of time as a line that’s burning. Sometimes I watch the incense burn, and I imagine that it’s this great journey from one end of this big, dusty bowl to the other. the song starts off with the one line of incense that turns into the life that turns into the land, and I felt happy with the idea of expansion. I’m saying, “I’m coming to you/I’ll be there in time’ to death as well as to the source. But there’s a feeling of, when I die, it will be okay, because I will have done what I mean to do. I won’t have missed it.

Words

“On Masculinity” by Suzanne Vega

February 9, 2000

“On Masculinity” orignally appeared in Esaquire Magazine, October 1991

One of my earliest memories is as follows: I am sitting with my first boyfriend. His name is Markie and he is my next-door neighbor. We are both four years old. I look over at him and say, When I grow up, I am going to marry you. He looks back at me and says, When I grow up, I am going to be a fireman and squirt water all over you. I thought his comment was only mildly amusing, but I recall that my parents found it really funny. I suppose he was expressing a traditionally masculine sentiment, the phallic implications of which were not lost on them.

This phase of going around wanting to marry people was short-lived. By the age of eleven, I had decided that getting married was for wimps. So was being feminine, for that matter.I no longer wanted to marry a man. I wanted to join the ranks of men. SoI cut my long blond hair into a bowl shape around my head, wore work boots and blue jeans and a pea coat. I began to think of myself as a psychic soldier, one who would resist and endure: honest, straightforward, courageous. I didn’t play with makeup. I studied karate. In my basement there was a bucket of sand and gravel in case of fire. When I did my laundry down there, I would sit on the window sill in the dark and grind my knuckles into the gravel until specks of blood appeared. I wanted my hands to be hard and calloused. I wanted to be manly.

Around this time I was impressed by yet another image. My sixth-grade teacher built a pyramid out of wheels and sticks, objects that were frail in themselves, but when he put the pyramid on the floor and leaned on it, it maintained its shape. Beautifully and gracefully it resisted the pressure of his weight, and I decided that henceforth I wanted to be like the pyramid, which was neither masculine nor feminine it was abstract.

But even abstract shapes can’t escape the fate of being assigned one sex or the other. Traditionally, protrusions, weapons, buildings, mountains are masculine. And recessions bowls, valleys, oceans are seen as feminine. Of course, this is silly.

A woman is as capable of protruding as a man is (she can have a loud personality, or big breasts with pointed cones on them, for example). A man can be as yielding, as receptive, as any woman.

I was asked once in an interview: Who impersonates sex for me? I tried to explain that I prefer to handle these things myself, but I did suppose I could send my sister as an impersonator if I wasn’t up to it. The interviewer nodded politely and repeated the question. He meant, of course, who do I find sexy? Who personifies sex for me? I think people are sexy when they have a sense of humor, when they are smart, when they have some sense of style, when they are kind, when they express their own opinions, when they are creative, when they have character. These are not particularly masculine traits. I prefer to believe that in our hearts and minds, we are more similar than not. And my answer to the interview question was: My boyfriend A. and Marlene Dietrich.

Words

“Impressions Of Portugal” – by Suzanne Vega

February 9, 2000

December 1993

“Portugal?” says my brother. “Isn’t that a totally coastal country?” he says, in that American way some people have of speaking.

Yes, it is totally coastal, I tell him. It’s a total coast, with miles of beach. It’s a fishing country, where fishermen still sail every day, and people cook sardines by leaning out of their windows, and grilling them on the small and winding streets in the older parts of Lisbon. I remember seeing the ocean in Portugal for the first time. It was at night, and the hotel restaurant looked out over the water. I wanted to know, what was the color? Blue or turquoise or green?

Have you never seen the ocean before? my host wanted to know. Of course I had seen the ocean, but never this one. I looked out at the expanse of the sea that night, and then the next morning, looking at the clear gold light of the sun over so much water, I felt the weight of the history. You feel this history in the sea; which, of course, is eternal; and in the buildings. The light and the architecture combine to make beautiful sweeping views, like an old painting – the towers and clocks against the play of clouds and sea have a rich lovely color, so different from the pale watery stark light of Germany or Northern England. These buildings were alive during the centuries following the 8th century Moorish occupation, and are still alive today, although some have very modern graffiti on them. For those who are interested in this history, much of the old architecture is intact because Portugal was untouched in the two World Wars.

But besides all these weighty historical feelings, I also felt all possibilities open for the future, as though I were a kind of female Henry the Navigator surveying the avenues of exploration upon the horizon. I had the feeling if I looked hard enough perhaps I could see my apartment in Manhattan, which looks over the Hudson River. Portugal is not mummified, or kept behind glass, self-consciously historical and prim; it is down to earth, sometimes dirty, and sometimes elegant, but always alive and friendly.

I was invited in 1988 to visit the President Soares at the Palace, which surprise me, as I am not used to invitations from high places. Why? I wondered. Would my visit provoke any protest? Yes, they liked him. No, they would not protest. He seemed to have the rare talent of being able to please both the left and the right wing at the same time – a liberal conservative of sorts. I was impressed. In my country, all you ever heard was complaints against the government, especially in New York, and I have never known a people to be happy with their elected representatives.

Their President was gracious, but neither of us spoke the other one’s language. We smiled at each other a lot. I went with someone from the record company, my boyfriend, and my manager. We sat down in a line and spoke for a few minutes, had our pictures taken, and then we got up and began to mill around the beautiful palace which looks something like a museum. Formal circumstances, even as informal as these, always make me uncomfortable, so I thought that I would initiate a movement to conclude our visit, and marched forward confidently to the huge front doors and tried to throw them open.

“Oh, Miss Vega, wouldn’t you rather leave through the front door rather than the second story window?” said the guard, running over to prevent me from flinging myself off the balcony. It still makes me laugh to think about it, but the President was kind, and I was pleased he took the time to invite me.

We had a press conference that night, in a small club. I told the story there, and it made the front row laugh. I had seen these same young women at the airport the day before. My memories are that I was mobbed when I arrived. The reality was probably that there were more like ten people, but I remember the photographers, and the pictures they snapped of my surprised face as we drove away in the car. They printed them with gusto the next day in the newspapers.

I had lunch with some of the journalists during my visit, which I loved, because the weather was soft and sunny, and we ate outdoors in a restaurant with painted tiles near the entrance. There were leaves overhead, and we ate fish and drank vinho verde. I told them I felt I was a journalist in my songs, and they responded that they felt they were artists.

Why did you write about the Portuguese women in your song Ironbound? they wanted to know. Because I had seen some Portuguese women in the Ironbound section of Newark, New Jersey, near where I live, and that they looked very beautiful and womanly to me, and that it made me feel that I was in a romantic and warm place far away, like Lisbon. When I sing that line on stage, all eight thousand people in the audience in Lisbon, or Oporto, or Cascais, cheer and scream and sing along happily. They wave their arms and celebrate.

There was one Portuguese woman who sang and played the guitar to warm up the audience for me a few times. Her name was Pilar, and she sang by herself, with no band or other accompaniment. I remember mostly her dark lustrous hair and her beautiful sad songs, and her voice that sounded ripped from her, or torn out of her. One minute her voice was caressing, and the next sad; she would croon, hiccup, cry and accuse. It had an extraordinary effect on the audience, especially the men and boys; they howled in response. It didn’t seem to matter which words she sang. They howled in response to the pure sound of her voice. I did too, within myself.

I believe that the soul of Portugal, besides being the sea, is in the songs. I went to a small club one night, where a woman was singing unamplified in the center of the room, with her head thrown back, like she was wailing or moaning. Everyone pressed in close to her. This was fado singing, a kind of singing that began in the 16th century, and continues today. The songs are about desire, fate, and human passions, and are usually very sad. I understand why.

An imposing man followed her, and I heard whispers that this singer was a judge in his daily life. Again I was impressed, as in the United States you would never see a judge singing in a nightclub. Here it seemed the most natural thing. Who should sing about fate and human destiny if not a judge? As he sang, he turned around so the entire room could see him; he seemed to look in my direction and his mouth opened very wide (at me?); a tremendous sound of singing and wailing poured out of him. I felt flattened against the wall and for a moment was relieved that he was not my father, and that he had no cause to be angry at me, as I would not want to provoke such wrath. Afterwards we talked in a friendly way and he gave me one of his recordings.

The last image I have of Portugal was just before Christmas one year, when I was in our tour bus, riding through the warm streets, looking at the grocery stores with huge pieces of dried codfish hanging outside. Some of these hanging fish are as big as a man. On one street corner in front of all this fish was a man, in fact, waiting for the light to change, and casually smoking a cigarette with his hand on his hip. He was thin, and looked tired, and he needed a shave. Perhaps this would not have made an impression, except that he was dressed as Santa Claus, and his red pants hung low around his dark narrow hips. He made no pretence of being jolly or fat or nice, and I admired him for it. Beside this I remember the faces, which to me look like those of my family, though not my own – the dark skin and the large dark eyes, the round faces and the wide cheekbones of my brothers and sister I grew up with.

Copyright © Suzanne Vega. All rights reserved.

We Of Me