emma b. says

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

One Hundred Years of Fortitude

It's been a hundred years since the earth shook here, a hundred years ago it took twenty-eight seconds to level a city, and what the earth didn't swallow the fires consumed.

It's been six years since any lover has said he loved me. And in the interim, when I have let slide those three dangerous words, the earth has shook for only me, and what remained after worm fodder the fires gladly took, until I was but a soot shadow hiding on a scorched wall.

So the city rises, incrementally, floor by floor out of the ashes and into something quite possibly improbable, and things get crushed, and things get lost to history, and you may or may not notice, but it might not matter anyway. But because we are human we will cleave to our hallmarks, benchmarks and bank holidays, and because we must commemorate there are those who will rise before dawn next year to mark the passing of the 101st anniversary of the cataclysm. That is, only if the next cataclysm doesn't completely benumb us or scrub us from the map. Only our fickle mistress could tell, if only she hadn't fallen out with the weather, and if only people hadn't yet discovered how to strap bombs to themselves.

It's been forty-five days of rain, with hop scotch reprieve.

It's been an evening of the first and last strong rays of sunlight, staggering between city blocks and setting fire to office windows, it's been ages since I have been able to track the creep of dusk to crepe paper blue and the sweet timpany of night blooming jasmine shooting perfume into the night, settling on shoulders, invisible mantles, and swirling about the season's first naked ankles.

It's been six hours since my first martini and an hour and a bath away from my last calvados, all across this risen city old friends and acquaintances are settling in for the night, at peace, aflame, resting on laurels, or struggling to breathe, curling into their beloveds, or happy, or unbearably lonely there in the middle of the bed. As for myself I am somewhere in the uneasy middle of the inbetween, I could just as easily open my heart to the lowing howl of all those anguished souls chewing the blue from the night sky and playing percussion with their very own thigh bones against a drum of their very own skin. And I could just as easily fall shortly in between the sheets swathed in a happy liqored haze, with my limbs furling about a certain charmed engineer, the one who said I might be dynamite, the one who is across town, but I've mapped his body like I've mapped his breathing. Cities rise and fall in a breath, a lot like love, a lot like living, a lot like fire gnashing at the foundations as fast as we can build them, or a lot like an earthquake, unexpected and unsubtle and rapaciously hungry.


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