Passers By_

Reads: 80  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 1

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Editorial and Opinion  |  House: Booksie Classic
A lyrical exploration of the marvels of the human face.

Submitted: December 30, 2011

A A A | A A A

Submitted: December 30, 2011



Passers By 




By Niamh Jiménez


“Do you believe in magic?” she asked, through long, dreamy lashes. I shook my head. Magic was a silly notion people employed in the face of inexplicable events, like ghostly apparitions or the garbled vocabulary of a busy bluebottle suddenly taking on grammar. It could not cohabit with logic or reason or any theories that scientists carried around in their pockets. She raised her eyebrows and snorted. “I knew you’d say that.”


We were sitting in a crowded coffee shop at a table by the window. She always chose the table by the window; it was like gazing into an impressionistic canvas containing swarms of people clad in colourful attire and frivolous hats. Some were carrying large baskets and shopping bags, plump with anonymous substances, while others excavated an umber waxy content from their ears and furtively deposited it onto the pleats of their trousers. Women vacillated, as if having forgotten an important item, the knowing of which inspired irascibility at having to return to wherever they had just come from. Others smiled and conversed with acquaintances, intermittently pausing to reprimand devious children with mouths rimmed with melted chocolate. But before noticing these trivial details, my eyes almost always fixed on a stranger’s face; the other distractions were mere components of a much larger holistic canvas, like an accent or the idiosyncratic modulation of a voice.  Beyond this disorderly concatenation of actions, hats and gaits, there was the intrigue of the human face.


The banal pursuit of gazing out a window at a swarming street can be transformed into something extraordinary. It’s difficult not to assume the stance of dazed philosopher, silently cogitating over a steaming mug of Starbuck’s finest cafe latte. The physiognomy of strangers tells a thousand tales beneath the sun’s scrutiny. Shopping bags transform into glimmering vessels, as the light stammers in and out of their many folds and creases. People’s spectacles reflect distortions of commonplace objects, and eyes seem strangely mathematical when the sun glances off their burnished surfaces. The faces of old men are ribbed like corrugated iron roofs, standing like alabaster effigies.  Cigarettes sandwiched between creased fingers or flanked between lips morph into different shapes, inspired by different mouths. Smoke takes the aspect of gaudy plumes that flourish in the air like burgeoning vines up a trellis, trekking like runny liquid into the blue heavens. 


When I looked at faces, I was always seized by the same wonderment. I was enchanted by the unrivalled ingenuity of whoever crafted each distinct countenance, each one a breath of fresh innovation. There were people of all shades and shapes, each pursued by their own contorted silhouette: a comical perversion of the living form. Each possesses an individual comportment: they each hold up their frames in a different way; they each lift their legs and swing their arms to a different tune. They parade an infinity of original tics and mannerisms, acting out different configurations of gait, aspect and manner. But if there are only so many ways in which words can be arranged to form a manuscript, perhaps there is a predetermined number of faces, and Someone plucks them out of the air as if solving an anagram. I could not deny that there was something magical about the way each face was constructed; our design cannot be penetrated by logic or reason or any other instruments that the dazed philosopher must eventually renounce. Logic sits like a stale residue left behind when the solution has evaporated. Imagination is the only irrational tool which can account for the wonders of the human face. Imagination is the only imaginable architect of humanity. It is the silly notion that people employ as the solution to inexplicable inventions.


© Copyright 2018 Latina1. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:


More Editorial and Opinion Miscellaneous

Booksie 2018 Poetry Contest

Booksie Popular Content

Other Content by Latina1

One Dark Summer

Book / Historical Fiction


Short Story / Literary Fiction

Poetry Review: G. M. Hopkins

Essay / Editorial and Opinion

Popular Tags