Cities

Photo by Omar Willey.Licensed CC-BY.

Photo by Omar Willey.
Licensed CC-BY.


I’m working on a major work on cities
To tell people they are all the same,
and different—

That we live through these cities
To transform all our personal cities
Into an Ideal City,
The ideal remnants of our experiences,
Our loving goodbyes to this world.

To know cities we must go off somewhere
A year, two years, maybe five,
Then come back. Go off to a desert,
To the top of a mountain somewhere
And live with the eagles’ Creeeeeeee
In the high clouds,

Then come back and see
The buildings reaching clouds,
Crying out loud to the clouds
And see how from far off
They’re perfect abstract sculptures,
Monuments of intellect soaring,
Needle-spires towards God,

And from close up
They become citadels of tears,
Penthouses of pent-up emotion,
And how a million people
Have cried in the streets below.

I don’t hate these cities,
I love them, I admire them
As I do giant beasts in photographs,
In zoos, in the wild,
But I approach them with caution.

I only go round in cities
When I have something to do.
Otherwise, they appear as yawning traps,
Pools of tears on each corner,
Eyes of people inviting me
To orgies of hate and terror.

To live in a city,
Or even to live on a mountain
With the people of a city
Enshrined in one’s heart,
One must know that there are no
Random pathways in this world.
All pathways are pathways of learning.
Each person’s life is a path.

In cities we must tread lightly,
Or we will step on other people’s hearts.
Then we will see things
We are not supposed to see.

Cities, I will know you a long time yet.
I respect your enormity.
Someday I will graduate from your school.