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The Wicker Chronicles: Essays, Poetry, Short Fiction
Wednesday, 15 June 2005
dreams of cities


There is a city.

It is cold and stone, metal veins pulsing with bitter fuel and fire. But this is only in the grey marrow, in the spaces between the walls, in the wormed out hollows of cellars. On the surface it is all candy and neon, skin dancing with color and youth.

It appears to live, but it is a necropolis.

It is the last road, the only one left, the desperate path when all ways are closed.

It is the last hand of the last game, and it knows it.


There is a city.

There is an ache, a want in each of us that has no name, only a place: this place.

Without the city, we are scattered seeds, lost, blown in the wind, caught in strange currents, taken away from ourselves. We become less than what we could be without you, O City.

The tips of your furthest branches stir the rarified gas at the lip of space, and your roots caress the dull red rock at the edge of the core.

No part of our world is unknown to you. No part of us is unknown to you, O City.


There is a city.

It is ancient and new, all at the same time --- buildings coming down, buildings going up. All is in flux, ending and beginning.

Once, when I was walking to the library after school, I took a shortcut over one of the wide bridges that span the Fox River. I ran down the crumbling cement and iron stairs that extend down from the bridge to Walton Island, a narrow strip of land with scraggly trees in the center of the river. A damp breeze blew from the dimness underneath the bridge. I saw an old man sleeping behind the foot of the stairs, curled up on the cool cement in the shade. At least, I thought he was sleeping. I hurried on, not thinking about his motionlessness, the sense of stagnance, his stillness in contrast to the rushing brown of the river.

Afternoon fishermen in worn lawnchairs had camped out along either side of the island, poker faces not revealing whether they had caught any fish, or hoped to. They were focused on their serious game and barely registered my passage. They didn't seem happy, just driven, bent to their purpose.

As I reached the end of the dirt path, about to set foot on the small arch of the Iron Bridge which led at last to the library, I glanced up to my right into the low boughs of a box elder tree. A flock of parakeets busied itself in the spreading branches, green and yellow and blue, twittering and chirping, as normal as if they were native. Which they were not.

They were living jewels cast in feathers, serendipitous anomalies thousands of miles from the jungle. They were living sentences on the paragraph tree, and they spelled out: anything is possible if you know how to see. Even someone like me can follow the brown river down to the sea, and leave the sleeper and the fishermen behind. Even someone like me can follow the dirt path to the edge of the island, and roll back the dark, blank ceiling of the sky to find fiery stars.

Posted by blog/wicker_chronicles at 12:01 AM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, 15 June 2005 9:36 PM CDT
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