Many European towns build small towns in their middle. A replica nestled within the big so that the actual becomes fantastic and the replica factual, with the exactitude of little signs and shops but better, cleaner, and more comprehensible. People stand in the narrow aisle between the town and the copy, not tourists or residents in either place.


In many cities people walking from one building to another look back to see whether the person on their minds is present, as if a shadow thrown forward tapped their backs. Or the pedestrian isn’t thinking of anyone but turns and finds the person she was just about to think about, as if the thoughts just spring out as material.


From afar many stains make patterns. From afar they slip off and gather on lacks, grab a shape, and call out familiar, a habit that never felt named.


Many years turn at the turn of the year, when the end and beginning are heard at one moment. The party of stupid hearts happens here. It’s a party that no one ever throws, made of the best bits of years planked into one raft of hours. The door opens wide as a card. The townsfolk do not slam the door after they enter; the farmfolk do not hide their pitchforks in their sleeves. We all wipe our boots at the door of their saltcrust and strawpats and old tar and greed. Everyone, dead or alive at their closest moments is there, drained of the stiffness in their necks, is stuffed to the nose with the smells of clove, orange, and pine. There’s laughter and talk in some chambers, with fiddles and dancing in the big hall, with sparkles and blue plates of savory foods. Laughter untwines through samba and hip-hop and madrigal raag. We glow yellow inside. In one corner my father, a child, plays piano without judges, and I am behind him alight with his abandon, like the rest of the crowd.

Photo by Sean Foster/Unsplash


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