The long memories of cities: by Philip Kane

The long memories of cities are as fragile as the pepper of a heart.  Girdled by iron trees, old buildings simmer in the haze of their nostalgia, bringing back to mind that distant summer when we flew like origami birds into the hills and rang on the doorbells of giants. 

Elks wander through the overgrown streets.  The creatures have outstripped their original purpose, emerging from the basements one pale dawn to tie knots in the logic of the suburbs.  They refuse to go under again.  Pelicans flap wearily at high windows.  Dogs congeal on side roads, their fur matted with diesel oil.  Children run down corridors that have been empty of life, otherwise, since the boom collapsed in on itself.  Their shrieks are a reminder of history. 

Somewhere there is the wail of a violin.  It carries across the rooftops and lingers in dank corners, among the bearded men who sit there huddled into their brown overcoats.  They have all been stuffed with straw, the yellow ends of which poke from their cuffs and their nostrils.  They should have been told that the war is over, but they still think of themselves as condottiere armoured for the coming battle. 

As for the violin player, wherever he is – maybe locked away in a cold attic, or eating cheese in a wine cellar – the orchestra ran out on him a long time ago.  Since then, he’s been waiting for his wife to join him, safe in the knowledge that she has two wooden legs, a piston instead of one arm, and a spigot in place of her nose.  Little does he realise that she’s already run off, twice now, with a spirited young gentleman whose beer belly she admires very much. 

He, in his turn, is simply looking for an audience.  He took a poor job, pushing a broken tram this way and that across town, in the hope of being able to pay for his mistress.  But she wanted flowers and she wanted rhubarb, an expensive commodity; when he turned up on her doorstep with his pockets full of watches, and a perfumed handkerchief where his moustache should have been, she rejected him out of hand.  She thought it was the way that mistresses should behave, but the young man took it badly and shaved off his own hair.

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~ by londonsurrealistgroup on June 5, 2007.

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