It is the difference I always notice between small and large cities: the parks.
When you sit deeply within Boston Commons or Central Park you can feel the city always threatening to encroach and once again make you its prisoner, smell and hear the city, traffic and trucks rumbling, horns played in a cacophonous symphony.
In small cities you can sit in a park and wonder where downtown could be, distant, a whisper perhaps alwlays unseen, and you can get lost in dreams of childhood smell newly mown grass, and listen unimpeded to the stories the trees are all to willing to tell.
The cannery, long before it was a mall, sat on the verge of the bay bellowing steam into the night sky shrouding the stars in a gauze blanket, listening to the braying of the harbor seals pleading for the morning’s dross to be returned to the bay waters. The otters lie on their backs peering over the rocks and the monolith its lights blazing as the trucks and carts are laden with neatly stacked boxes, grasping their stones, crushing the shells nestled on the bellies. Outside the fishermen, boats scrubbed clean, stagger down the narrow streets, stumbling from bar to tavern, sleeping fitfully on benches in the nearby park, dragging up narrow alleys to small, fading framed houses kerosene lamps growing dim, knowing the sun merely dozes below the horizon, soon to edge up and watch the boats ease back out of the harbor into the sea. Steinbeck walks slowly, savoring the smells of morning, tasting the stale beer of the night before.
First Appeared Online at Beachfire Gathering, 1996.