This city’s skin and scale barely yield under my brittle footing, on the contrary, and I am more nervous than ever today, I feel it in my hollow gut, whatever it girds, I feel the ground ruffle up and collide with the soles of my Palestinian boots before I even have time to touch down again; in fact surfaces here will conspire to disorient any stranger, wave after wave of ground swelling, gaining on me until I steal into a bookstore and shut the door like lightning behind me with both hands, crashing shop door bells a thunder signalling the distance counted by seconds of my arrival. I walk in thoughtful circles until sufficiently entranced by the arrangement then settle for a spell before a section labeled New Arrivals Used, absorbed by the novelty of each title in English, a language that has become more foreign to me than ever and any other, and by then, as if an action devised by intuition I swing my head around to find a face nearly grinning in my direction, with hair in millions of tiny black curls and of considerable volume encircling both crown and mouth, ostensibly browsing the same few of multiplicitous spines, I step sideways to share the view of New Arrivals Used and then step away entirely to deter if only to convince myself any presumption of sexual interest, at which point I cannot stop thinking about the current paucity of human contact in my life so somewhere as salve I slide Understanding a Photograph out from its place on a shelf, pay five euros fifty for it, and deposit myself to the nearest cafe for devouring its first chapter, against Imperialism from the base point of looking at an image whereby the ultimate decision is now located within the self (Berger).

Later, my shoulder brushes hard against a man who has annexed the sidewalk’s total width while walking in my opposite direction, or my ears are so cold that, with my worn fur-lined leather gloves I bought for 2JDs in the gills of Amman’s rainy Friday Market, I pull halfway over a diagonal slice of my ears the synthetic black hood of the coat that clinches me loosely with a column of large Chinese button-knots reaching from throat to mid-thigh. Pulling the black hood completely over my head, which I do if the cold is untenable, causes anxiety at stairwells that this all-enveloping black form might give someone a fancy to kick me from the top of the steps down to the cement platform of the U-Bahn below, at which point I spill the contents of my bag and wreck the paperback that I’ve come to cherish in the short time I’ve known it, a choreography after the violence recorded in the Berlin surveillance video that went viral in the last weeks. And so I am set to erupt with creased giveaways horizontal across my forehead, I don’t care, which means I just need to make a quick mental note of each thing that doesn’t concern me anymore, I am one of those who will go on, even when this is the moment that utter withdrawal sets in, but a nod to the non-normative and I gather my spilled guts into the belly of my black cloth bag in advance of standing up to continue walking, black-hooded, virulent, spitting fire in all directions, just before I find you in the least expected places and you give my life temporary meaning in the shape of multiple courageous forays into unknown electrical fields traversing the interminably expanding untilled openness of nighttime, that walking during daylight hours is simply treading with the visual aid of ordinary light.

Neukölln, Berlin