What I most want to do now, locked in by something unseen, is to wander the streets of cities here, Europe, it hardly matters, and find statues whose plaques are worn away or gone missing, now nameless souls of once lesser fame meriting a bronze or of such ego as donating their own image to the town.
They are forgotten souls, often rightfully so no doubt, but even the forgotten deserve a name merit a history and higher purpose, and I would offer those, with Banksy-like labels, this old bearded man, now Ignatius Fatuus, best remembered for inventing the pyramidal bread pan, where each loaf is uniformly burned on top, and there Shoshanna Chesed, who pointed out that if we were created in God’s image, it is likely God is a woman given the planet’s gender distribution, before the zealots stone her for blasphemy, insuring their own ultimate, eventual ticket to hell.
But perhaps the virus will grow tired of us, mutate, and go after one of the myriads more intelligent species we have not yet foolishly or greedily rendered extinct.
First appeared in The Poet: A New World, Autumn 2020
Over the next few weeks I shall step into more churches than is safe for a formerly Jewish Buddhist, but in Europe it seems no tour is complete without one or more churches, at least one of which will be the most beautiful cathedral in all of [choose any country you wish and inserted here.] I will take off my hat, for that is easier than the opprobrium of the faithful, I will stare at the beauty of the stained-glass, try, in some cases, to ignore its message, and hope, beyond all logic, that this group will stop at a synagogue were all of the men and women, save me will have to put on kippot or head scarves and most will vow it will be their last visit do such a heathen place, at least until they get to Antwerp or Amsterdam.
“You have to go all the way to Washington,” he said, “to find decent statuary.” “Oh, you can find one or two in almost every city. Its founder, some general or admiral, some animal that oddly represents a metropolis that has cast out its animals, or penned them up in zoos, put them on leashes. New York has quite a few, Boston as well, and Chicago, well it likes sculpture, but spend half an hour in Vienna and you are overwhelmed with statuary. Maybe they have lower standards there, or far more history, but I suspect it is that they don’t rush about on the winds of whim, despite our endless example to them.
Cities should abut rivers. The better of them do, and the best still have rivers running through them. That is the nature of a great city, it allows you to look at a river from both of its banks, and still be in the heart of the city. In Europe, this is an expectation, it is how cities were born, how they grew, outward from their heart and soul. So no one is surprised when wandering a great city, say Prague, Paris, or Budapest, to find a river carving its way through. Cities abutting oceans can only look outward, the water seeming infinite, as though the part of the city that ought to be on the other side has been washed away. Oceans imprison cities, and carry their dreams off to drown.