Credit: “The World is Sound,” The Rubin Museum of Art
“Cities, like dreams, are made of desired and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules are absurd, their perspective deceitful, and everything conceals something else.” – Italo Calvino.
Below is a surreal lyric essay inspired by the Rubin Museum’s “The World is Sound” exhibit, and the walk home after. I’ve been thinking lately about how to capture cities–a city like New York is feels especially impossible to capture.
“What is the sound you hear when you die?”
“What is the sound of the universe being created?”
In one room, a monk chants you to your grave, sweetly.
Every moment passes into another moment like clouds rolling over the moon.
The moon through trailing branches is the moon over a bayou in Louisiana. “Look at the broken castle,” Z says pointing to a building under construction, and the moon is the moon over a castle in Transylvania.
City blocks stretch, each step a step into another time in the life of the city, the moon over a low white wall is the moon over Granada. Continue reading “Postcard: On New York City, Aug. 2017”
Mississippi River, New Orleans
You see the river, swollen and brown, lapping cake-tongued at the bank. You know it stinks even though you’ve never been to this river before, even though you aren’t close enough to smell it, couldn’t be for another half-mile at least.
The first night, you sit back in a lawn chair and look up at the swamp trees overhung with paper lanterns and light bulbs in Christmas colors trailing from the branches, the way the night falls softly over the patio, which is what they call these big, open spaces here. You lean back into the laughter humming from the tables, wine bottles scraping against metal wire, chairs pushed back and forward like music. This town creating its own beat.
Continue reading “Postcard: New Orleans, Dec. 2014”
Since I don’t write, I often think in imaginary conversations that work like writing. On our last drive through Culebra, I imagined a co-worker asking me if I missed Culebra and how I would be able to say “no.”
Culebra is for tourists and for locals and for perma-tourists living their strange half-life. It’s not New York or Barcelona or Colombo where you can be a traveler, a stranger for a lifetime. In three days, we saw as much of Culebra as allowed to us, and it was exactly enough. Continue reading “Postcard: On Leaving Culebra, Mar. 2017”
Speaking of, Kathryn Schulz’s recent Thoreau take-down in The New Yorker is so delicious, I could spread it on toast. It launched the mandatory thousand think-pieces–“Why Thoreau Matters,” “Sorry, New Yorker, Thoreau Matters,” etc. I’m among the many who haven’t read a word of Thoreau in context so I still feel easy with his easiest takeaway: nature’s cool, let’s go there.
I was determined to hike “every weekend this fall”–of course, my ambitions were wrung and shrunk until I was left with just one hike–the destination was changed to closer and closer woods, all the morning trains missed, finally seeing us arriving at Manitou Point Preserve well after 2 PM. Continue reading “Postcard: Manitou Point Preserve, Oct. 31, 2015”