Wednesday, February 11, 2009

the prairie warms


The sun comes out, the prairie warms and suddenly things have names again. Winter is denial, spring is nomenclature. Richard Ford says a novelist's unit of thought is the sentence, not paragraphs or pages. A sentence with precise word choices, a sentence aware of what a thing, a world of things, is called. To observe is to name. Chicago in winter is cold. Cold, cold Chicago. A summery snap like this weekend's? Balmy with words. Images that pop with language. In buttery late afternoon light, reflections key across each other and everyone's eyes and skin seem lively, alert. In any direction you look, random, aimlessly, with or against the gentle, almost-not-there breeze, motion, flicker and flesh spend in the air. Dogs' bright eyes as they pass, the quest for sniff. T-shirts in perfect crease on average shoulders. Hardly anyone, anything looks away. Contact compulsive, convulsive. I see you see me. A streetful of winter's cigarette filters. The pianissimo of women's walk, look down and above the throat line of ballet-soft flats, the genteel ripple of metatarsals against pale skin. Someone you know smiles, turns, departs: nape barbered boyish. On Milwaukee, street glacier gone, in setting sun, rust's advance on a long-abandoned bicycle's chainring. City alive with decay as well. Alive with passage, alive, warm, hopeful.

[Chicago Avenue west of Western Avenue]

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Chicago, Illinois, United States

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