Saturday, October 15, 2011

Hemlock Alley

After finishing work at my venerable San Francisco library on Friday afternoon I rode MUNI (in the sudden heatwave we are having) down to Civic Center. Then I walked up Polk Street for a good number of blocks, keeping resolutely to the shady side of the street. The neighborhood prostitutes were just beginning to emerge, starting their day and greeting each other. Big tables of cab drivers socialized in the Arab cafe down the block from the mosque. It was their idle time of day, shifts changing over. Just before I reached the cross street that would lead to my grandfatherly destination, I happened to look up the narrow alleyway pictured here (only later noticing the street sign at its entrance that spelled out HEMLOCK).

I'm still stunned, actually, looking at the pictures later, the way these images (obviously the work of many different hands) are united by and integrated with the tilting diagonals of the fire escape and the wide facade of blank windows with those improbably beautiful arches across the tops.