Saturday, February 27, 2010

Just a city poem

I’m in a strange city. As I emerge from the trainyard, with the tracks stretching ahead and behind me, I’m looking for a landmark, a destination. Nothing is familiar, yet everything is familiar: long blocks of masonry and cornices, long blocks of Lustron and glass block, long blocks of signs and parked cars, long blocks of streetcar rail and cable in the air, disappearing beyond a turn in the boulevard. Nothing seems new, not the buildings, not the dusty road, not the signs or the cars, not even the derelict men lingering and shuffling at the corners. They don’t see me.

I’m running. Fear’s not why I’m running. It’s just that sometimes I feel the need to move fast, to beat it across the pavement, to get somewhere. Only I’m not getting anywhere. I’m on one side of the boulevard, flat and long and dusty. Sepia, almost. Particulate permeating the air. The boulevard has a diagonal turn, an elbow. As I pass it, all I can see is more and more and more city stretching on and on ahead. I run past one striking building, its name immortalized in blue and white tile above the entrance. One landmark in a sea of faceless edifices.

It has no name, this city, and there’s no one here I know. I’m looking for you in the reflections of the shop windows, in the windows of the streetcars as they shudder down the road, in the faces of the walkers as they brush past me on the sidewalk. I stop and stand still for a moment, turning ‘round, breathless, lost. Lost in beautiful decay, its living heart pulsing beneath its deceptive surface. Here I am. I don’t know where I stand. Find some way of telling me.

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