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Fragile City

Yesterday I saw the homeless guy (the one who lives in front of the church & used to own a spiderman blanket) in the supermarket in the new shopping centre (the one with the white floor). He was buying a loaf of white sliced bread, lining up with everyone else & checking the change in his palm.

I don’t know why I found it weird. Somehow my head had decided he’d always been homeless, I guess. That he’d never bought groceries or stood in a queue. As if the world had sprung up fully formed one night and put into place the requisite office workers (me) & homeless people (him) in some kind of balanced, artistic statement. Not the case at all, of course, I know that. Time changes people. Space does, too. Geography, I mean. He must have come from some place, like I did.

My earliest memories involve cane fields, and burnings. Trains filled with burnt, chopped sugar cane. And lots of space — lots of distances, most of it green. Lots of sky, too. Back then you never had to walk in a straight line because there was so much space. Nowdays I can’t walk in a straight line because the city won’t let me, keeps putting things in my way. I mean, people. But at night the people are mostly shut away and then you can walk any line you want. There’s sky, too, but you have to look straight up in order to see it snagged between buildings. Except when you cross the road, & then, from the median strip, you can look to your left or right and find a big smear of sky to look at. You have to watch the traffic, though. You can’t pause.

I don’t mind it this way at all. I know the space and the sky are there, behind buildings that, to my mind, are like thin props. Facades with nothing inside or behind them. You can blow on the front of any building & knock it all the way over, so I imagine. Or maybe, like a cane field, you can burn the whole place down. Then you can see the sky behind it.

I like the city. It feels so temporary. Our whole fragile world leaning half-sprawled, resting on sky.