I have long been a big fan of Flemish Renaissance era painting in general and Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1525-69) in particular. The first major European art museum I stepped into was Musee des Beaux Arts in Brussels April 1982. Auden's poem of the same name references Bruegel's "Icarus" painting and an interesting work it is, a deviation from his many paintings depicting peasant life in the sixteenth century. An updated theme from Bruegel presented itself in the greater Lake City, three individuals approaching the cab limping and generally dragging themselves along, not unlike various crippled and maimed unfortunates presented by the Master himself. My actual passenger's feet were wrapped, his swollen base supported by crutches. Beyond stiff, he dove into the rear seat, somehow repositioning his rigid frame. His friend with the bad hip miraculously bent down enfolding him with an affectionate bear hug.
Once off he said "49th & Phinney" so we headed in the basic direction of the zoo. Weeks of not bathing filled the compartment but my nose has encountered worse. Hitting I-5 south-bound he suddenly said take me to 97th & Greenwood which I did. Turning onto North 97th he again requested the original destination. Slightly peeved I said okay, give me twenty dollars but there would be no further changing of destinations. He asked me to turn up the John Dowland, commenting upon the music. Flying down Greenwood I got him to his intersection and with the usual hesitations out of the taxi. I hate this variety of fare knowing his crisis will continue unabated and I can do absolutely nothing about it. Once standing he said that he was at the wrong place, needing to be a block away. With my friend John awaiting me at Hing Loon I snapped that he was on his own and got out of there. These fares never end. Now it resides in my mind forever along with Bruegel and countless other touchstones building a towering wall providing a foundation to lean upon. Tonight I am barely standing. Thankfully I have been sitting.
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