III. Water

once there was another life and not on the other side of the world but almost there was a city and through that city ran water so still none knew its depths with certainty but when sticky days dissolved into clammy nights a silence settled creeping in slowly from that water, a silence so earthly that none could call it anything but sincere and the only sounds were the soft splashes of thousands of baby crests against sleeping boats, so constant that the white noise faded into the diegesis of the night

for each night there was another narrative in the stony streets and unmarked alleys alongside the still waters, a story of abrasive praise from voices singing and bodies dancing unbridled and so bold as to interrupt the cool flow that came so naturally to the city in the dark bringing dreams into the unknown depths where on the surface rests the muddled reflection of self so fleeting and removed

and not so far away in any sense of the word lay another world within this world where nights along the city’s river brought the crooning of sidewalk troubadours who stood below lights of the blue violet and moon variety on smoother pathways worn from loving footsteps walked from all walks of life, where arts of every kind from high and low flooded over the majestic parapet and seeped into the ghastly river and in the darkness there are the echoes of lingering symphonic strings letting loose last measures and of breezes passing pages of paperbacks and of film reels rolling and of scuffed wheels surfing spray painted surfaces and of a whisper bidding good night sweet prince

below the bridge into the unknown drift away the echoes into a fog that will burn off when the sun returns and as the minutes fall the last figures fade in the darkest of all the hours but there is no fear of isolation for in evening you found your face in the face of every stranger and you couldn’t help but turn away

and elsewhere runs another river before your feet and above you see the paved streets on which pass body after body in a gray rain too dismal to belong to any but the city itself which consists of six story buildings and the arches of that most gothic structure you read so much about where in each beam and stone and pane of glass is the touch of the hundreds of souls who poured life into this house for all the people who came thereafter seeking the serenity that dwells below the aged eaves

around the bend in the river those arches exist only in the abstract and along the far bank strolls couple after couple entwining their nerve-filled fingers and you can only imagine that sweet warmth and the spinal shivers and the unseen accordance behind the looks they exchange which betray a serenity of their own, but when you turn about there stands a countenance of camaraderie marked by lines from smiles and sleepless nights defined by endless streams of wine and revelation and from that familiar visage gazes a part of your own self and there beside the lively water you rise and take the gifted grace extended to you from the palm of a kindred hand.

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