Sippican Cottage

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A Man Who Has Nothing In Particular To Recommend Him Discusses All Sorts of Subjects at Random as Though He Knew Everything

Boston Museum

The wands from the buses grind and spark on the electric nets like a welder gone mad running down the street. There’s a screech as the wheels attempt to negotiate the turn. It is the shriek of a negotiator losing an argument.

I can smell only metal in the air. I don’t know if it’s possible; it just is, like praying to Jesus. The faint tang of electricity, of power, of life and death on the wind. One man’s trolley is another man’s electric chair.

The city is an idea held together with dirt. Leaves of newspaper crabwalk across the cobbles and spidered asphalt, looking for rest, like the people in the ink on their pages. Neither seems to find a place to stick and so wander endlessly and fitfully up and down the streets. There is no rest in a city; only the grave.

The stalls were full of flowers ready for last rites, and consumptive vegetables. The cold kept the heaps from warning the unwary with a whiff of truth in the nose. What good is a nose in the winter in the city anyway?

We stood on the platform and the wrong trains rushed by and everyone has the expression of a dog hard by a stain on a carpet. We rocked with the wind of the cars going by, while you decided whether you were inhaling or exhaling just then, because neither suits just now. Your lungs start up again like a tug on a rope to pull a flywheel.

The city has a kind of cold I don’t know how to describe. It is a robber. It takes the warmth out of your pocket when you’re not paying attention. It’s gone and you pat yourself looking for it on your person somewhere. Like a fool. My father’s hand was cold, but warmer than mine. He’s warm enough for us both.

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