Perhaps a potter
worked its corners with their hands once, long ago, in a city-birthing kiln
of fire, mud and steel.
Fifteen up from ground it rests; half in the alley, half without. It watches somberly as life passes, as the city turns. It's been here through smog and hail and rain and pollution yet unknown. Grimy with the passage and settling of experience, rough on the edges with a single large chip where a bicycle handlebar once just failed to make the corner.
Cars traverse the street. Single steel and double time, engines hum and tires spin to move the road beneath, a subtle sign that mayhap and could be that it's late. Time to feel the trouble, love the load; see the footsteps tromping down on gasoline with cries of late! as the city slumbers.
It slumbers still; it has, for years. Bored beneath it, subways spin, roadways girdle concrete fields where once were flowers, grass and earth. Changed for the sideways, not the better nor the worse; a thing is built there, persona, animated, character of song and verse that looks sleepily inside your window as you lay there (too hot to sleep) and peeks great stone eyes in on you. Don't stay up all night, the voice rumbles through, but maybe not in a register you can hear; you feel it, in your bones, stretch your weary muscles out before curling up near the open window crack.
The Fifteenth Up still waits, down there, and it will watch you walk on by to work (or play) in morning or in eve. It will note your passing, it has uncounted atoms in its girth on which to scribe your face and worth and with which to notate when you take your stroll. If only we had powers known not to us, we could sit (cross-legged) and take our time, slow our heartbeat, freeze our voice and ask the small stone atom who it has watched? Have you seen any people that, would you were asked, you would recommend to us? To tell us of their passage and their tasks, elucidate their fast-time steps along the block? I guarantee the ones of whom our friend would speak are not the ones their cousin books do shriek. Fame and fortune, antiverse, where famed and wealthy ride in steel where the plain traverse the steps of stone and time, leaving imprints on the grime.
Remember, it may sigh, remember the widow fifteen years gone? With child at her breast, husband dead behind you on that very ground - remember how she passed? When the child cried, she stopped, and sang to it until its small face smiled at the world and then, to see it, she too did grin? Remember her? She is one whose face is here.
Are there any others, watcher? Can you tell us of the small and low who pass here by, whose presence is still here like enow?
Your meter suffers.
Yes, I know.
And that will not save you. Still, there are some few whose stories i will grant; a solemn one whose daily passage past my view will perhaps enlighten. He passed me by twice daily, years gone; so long ago there were no buildings 'cross the way, but sunshine on my face and storms would wash the grime from here. Twice a day this man would cross from left to right and right to left, bent upon his work so human and so opaque to me. I do not know where he would walk; I do not know from whence he came. Twice daily, though, he would pass me by. Stepping across the puddle, over brickbats, avoiding child's chalk-line drawing - from that small detour did I mark him, not wishing to erase what others had left for the rain (if none other) to scrub away.
One day he passed but once, not twice; I recall now thinking as it grew dark that I had not seen him pass back by. He was not a young man, even then, but surely he had been hale of heart when striding by that very morn! I did not see him for some days, and mourned his passing, when I chanced upon my mistake. He passed again, from left to right (again!) and with him walked a woman, face uplifted to his own, a smile dancing on both their lips. I watched as they (paired) walked away, their drifting feet never slipping as they both stepped o'er the chalk, hands clutched tight against opposing fate, unbroken, tightened, love.
Silence indicates the memories dim, and hence we take our leave - to return again, one day or night and speak with this one small chunk of hardened earth who has, with such patient skill, set itself to watching. The wall does not see us nor it; the wall is nought but shape and pile, whereas the single atom held within can catch our eye, and form an inward stony smile as its humans pass just out of reach, into the city's night.
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