Evan Kleekamp

A Woman in a Crowd

A woman in a crowd gathers the attention of a camera overhead. Flowers repeat in a pattern on her dress, which smooths across her shoulders and opens to display her collarbone. A filter coats the whole scene in blue while the shadow beneath her chin lingers around her neck, sweeps down her spine, and blots out the chest of the man behind her. Part of me believes I am this woman. “Does it matter if the woman is black?” I wonder. Her hair, pulled to the right and left side of her head, creates a fault that runs down the middle of her scalp along the sagittal line. Her face appears as an extremity — an appendage defined by symmetrical organs: the two eyes, the nose with two nostrils, the mouth with matching rows of teeth attached to the top and bottom of the jaw. Without a view of the man’s face, and though the image is still, I intimate his hand wrapping around his wrist; I recognize the signs of anxiety, waiting, agitation, and disbelief. “Why me?” his gesture seems to ask. A white dot expands at the center of each of the woman’s eyes. Her cheekbones shine like mirrors: the nose, mouth, eyes, and ears constitute autonomously functioning organs in an instant that continues into perpetuity. The light reflected on her body suggests a faraway source drawing closer at a rate that exceeds her estimation. Her lip drops just enough to expose the bottom row of teeth and the beginning of her tongue. What does she see? She does not exhibit pain. Or, on the contrary, her its socket, brows that arch and produce parallel lines along her forehead, flared nostrils, hair brushed aside to lay bare ears that will never close. Her proximity to the other members of the crowd belies intimacy. I do not believe the woman is acting even though I know she is. Her mouth indicates the impossibility of what she sees. The orifices on her face prepare to receive incoming sensory information. What is it about the light in the woman’s eyes that tells me that she does not understand what her eyes observe? What is it about her open mouth that designates a catastrophe is about to occur?