Mirrors and Windows


(Every day is for the thief, Teju Cole, photo page 11)


There are multiple windows, and there is a mirror. The windshield is the biggest, it frames a bridge above the highway, upon which the resting cars are only visible from their windows to their roofs, like amputees or Lego parts. On the right, a card imprinted with dark background and a light, curving design hangs from the roof of the car, obscuring part of the view, on the left a feather on the dashboard stands at attention in front of the driver. Straight ahead streetlamps curve their spindly necks over the highway, lamps like match heads. A scraggly tree stretches over the top of an anonymous building. The very bottom part of the window is obscured by a white mist – either windshield wiper spray or haze tossed up by the cars in front. You cannot see if there are cars ahead but the driver can.


The rearview mirror doesn’t reveal much. It shows the curve of the driver’s head, dark against the light from a back window. It frames a single pedestrian on the bridge, white shirt and black pants, his face turned towards the moving car. His arms swing as he makes his way over the bridge. Is the wind blowing? There is a small flag on the dashboard, held up by a miniature plastic flagpole. The windshield wipers lie close to the glass, waiting.


The camera lens is one window. Then you look through the  wide window that shows the half-obscured city you are driving through. Then through the car windows up above, on the bridge, to the sky beyond. A figure appears in one, head resting on a hand. The rearview mirror reflects only a sliver of what is inside the car. Mostly, it shows us grainy light through one of the back windows and a dark curve. The feather and flagpole reflect one another. The pedestrian sees the car, sees the passenger, sees the camera.


The taxi passenger leans forward, his head close to the driver, to snap the shot.