Postcard from The High Line

Oh, The High Line is wonderful, everyone said, but you can hear in their voices it was not that wonderful, and in fact, walking there, from art museum to art museum, feels like being kidnapped by passive-aggressive kidnappers, who send the wind to mess your hair and re-mess it, disorienting you, forcing you into storage-places of expensive artwork to feel how nothing it is and how nothing you are, as nothing as the wind itself, bound to dissolve and be nothing, nothing.

In gift shops you wonder if any purchase could do more than cheer you for a day or a week. Would it change your life? The wind keeps saying no, don’t buy, there’s nothing there but more hostage-taking. A museum, though neatly laid out, like a new attic, is never so wonderful that you owe them money to memorialize having been there.

Though there are a stack of small hand-carved wooden boxes which open, each, to one small bevel-edged fitted mirror, showing you your eyes, a portion of your face. Your high anxiety. This is almost pleasant, seeing yourself trapped in something so small and cunning: you look like the solution to a puzzle, confused trophy at the end of a terrible hunt. Have you been walking The High Line on the windiest day ever? These winds might be making the old train tracks remember their busy days of moving things between factories, warehouses, holding pens.

What was it you were promised once? The possible use of your grandfather’s stone cottage, out by one of his farms. But without money it would be nothing, and  it was not your grandfather who offered it to you. No, it had been offered to you by two people who did not love or even like your grandfather, or you. Since he’s not using it, they said, why don’t you? You could write a novel there. Write a novel about how good it feels to give up on New York City. Manhattan.

That would not feel good, you wanted to say. It would feel like a headache of failure. All you didn’t need was to sit in your grandfather’s stone cottage, which he’d built with his hands to stay cool in summer on farming days when the heat was too great.

To another art museum you’ve come, arrived. You are tired and feel as nothing as the wind, possibly more nothing than the wind. The museum wants twenty-seven dollars, plus tax. Miro mobiles are inside; every hour on the hour an assistant curator will tap the edges of all the mobiles to make them bob and dance, fret their puppet predicaments and attachments and strings and cords and bits of wood and metal to show everybody what Miro was thinking.

You go through the last gift shop, buy nothing, and go outdoors again, supposedly to glory in the wind tilting the wild plants planted where once plants were absolutely not allowed, between the rails, still so oxide-red and sturdy and undissolvable. Trains are gone. Rails persist. And their timbers.

Bury my heart on The High Line. Beneath one of the rails, if that is possible. Add my high-school ceramics project, a pigeon made of clay, cut from flat clay as if it were a large cut-out cookie, and cooked flat in the kiln, emerging bluish but speckled brown. I was sure, once, I was loved. I was very sure. But that was like the wind.

Rebecca Pyle lives in mountainous Utah. She is published as fiction writer, poet, essayist, and as visual artist in The Hong Kong Review, Fugue, Pangyrus, Map Literary, BarBar, Gargoyle, JuxtaProse, New England Review, Otis Nebula, The Penn Review, and in many other art/literary journals. Recently she was the winner of a Miracle Monocle Award for Innovative Writing; her fiction has been nominated for inclusion in the Best of the Net Anthology and the Pushcart Prize. Her website is

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Issue 17.1

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