Cigaretting Woman

June 2, 2006

She sits with dirty hair and three weekdays on her shoulders, the morning sun barely reaching her face through the scarred plexi of the bus shelter. Parched claw draws a fresh fag from a pack of Avanti Lights. Butt to ruttled lips on powdered face, crack of chromium zippo, hard Wednesday pull, gray hymn to the alveoli, pursed exhale. Rough edges around her eyes, maybe a lingering shot of something between the cracks of her mouth. Dirty leather on shoulders and a bee sting mark on her unoccupied hand. Another pull, another squint, another rusty expunge. Gets up and walks toward the end of the platform, smoke cuddled into fingers. Takes another draw from that ruddy cherry. Looks to the east. Sun’s rising over the commerce and steel of the lower west end. I watch her walk for a bit. I watch the smoke curl around her hair as her cig hand falls to her side, causing a trace of ash to fall on her leg.

Vignette #80

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StreetRag is an urban weblog and podcast about the city of Edmonton, which is located in the province of Alberta, Canada. It is authored by Edmonton-based writer, web advocate, and poet Michael Gravel and is updated frequently with written urban vignettes, amateurish photographs, deuteronomous audio material, barely coherent musings and rambling ecumenical treatises. StreetRag is a love letter to a lonely prairie burg struggling with its big city ambitions and small-town feel.

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The city is Edmonton. It's a subject, not a passion. E-Town is almost universally derided by outsiders as an unlivable tundra wasteland populated by oil-hungry redneck conservatives who despise the arts. All of that is true. But it's not the whole story. There is beauty here. Dusty snowfalls. Brilliant summers. A stunning river valley. A diverse arts community that flourishes. It's a place that inspires a gray relationship - not all good, not all shitty. For that reason alone it is lovable, for what is life but a grayscale?

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