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Bodily Mechanics


I was to spend the afternoon waiting for my daughter while she attended her Saturday Girl Scouts session. They usually meet from 5 to 7 in a park. I take this opportunity to listen to favorite radio programs or perhaps read, with occasional catnaps… and so I did …until this woman appeared.

She must have been about 40, a tad overweight but still shapely. She wore old jeans and a faded red sleeveless top. She carried a broom, a bucket and a garden hose and she was in no hurry; there was this air of calmness about her. Her hair pinned up, a couple of strands falling to the side, yet she had a diligent attitude, much as if she were to carry out some important duty. From the driver’s seat in my Suburban, I had a comfortable vantage position, so I tossed my book aside and gave her my full attention, sure as I was that she would not see me.

Now, the broom was connected to the hands, right one above, left one about a foot below. The hands, with their phalanges, carpals and metacarpals, are then connected by the wrists to the arms, with their radius and ulna (I once broke these two, when I was a kid), following on to the humerus and their terminal in the clavicle. This connection of course draws on down the spine, with all of its very flexible vertebrae, which is linked to the pelvis, which then the legs support with femur, linked by the knee to the tibia and fibula, finally basing all the body’s weight on the feet’s heels, tarsals, metatarsals and phalanges. All these pieces compose the bodily mechanics, but then, when you add the flesh… Ooooooh, the flesh! …It brings symphonic harmony into the already amazing bone structure. You can watch TV or maybe the movies, but nothing beats the beauty and rhythm of a woman doing simple chores such as sweeping.

With the broom as her partner, she swept and swept while I watched and watched. Most of the time, my view was of her back: her neck bent a little toward the front, lightly leaning on the broom, the wrists twisting briskly, the line from shoulder to shoulder swaying angles with the line of her hips.

What rhythm! …What beauty! Occasionally, she would turn around to check how she was doing. This went on for about 20 minutes, advancing from far to near.

By the time the afternoon was flooded with orange light from the setting sun, she was sweating gold. I could tell by the shine appearing on her arms. Then she got the hose and with a graceful inclination she turned on the water. Mexican housewives take pride in the cleanliness of the section of street in front of their homes. The sun sparkled on everything… and then she was tired… perhaps also hot, because in a final move, she aimed up the hose and let the breeze bring the cool spray on herself for a few seconds. A few lovely seconds, after which she picked up her things and went inside. I was tempted to clap for encores. A scene from a Mexican movie classic came to mind: in “Como Agua para Chocolate” (“Like Water for Chocolate” – available with English subtitles) the scene where Tita was kneeling down while grinding corn on her metate. Watching these scenes in real life is even better.



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