Sometimes all the buildings in a city catch the sun just right, filmy yellow sheets dissecting blocks so that each street is walled by gold. I slip between them as I walk, step into the shadow made by brick and steal that leans above–cold and clamped, and captive in a way I’ve never minded–then back into the light again, as if to set the pace myself for rising of the sun. And what I take for time is all contingent on the turns of light.
The alleys here are cut so narrow that, abrest, perhaps no more than three or four can comfortably walk them. The cut-stone walls of buildings aren’t quite so tall as other places, but their propinquity effects illusions of exaggerated height, and walking in between them feels a bit like walking through a vice, the longer, staighter alleys drawing inward as they stretch so that I had to shrink.
It was spring, and raining, when I walked them. Water channeled through a lattice of depressions in the cobbled streets, collecting into puddles where a stone was gone or broken and reflecting from above the tightened straights of cloudy sky. Now and then the overcast would break to pour in sunlight on a slant between the close-knit blocks, and at a perfect angle planes of daytime, shear and platinum, carved their way across my path–layers of descrete and sunlit morning hung in front of me like curtains while I moved through dusk as cold as fall. I’d come to them and linger for as long as weather licensed, idle at the intersect of something like a day, and wait.
All I really know of days and nights is that they pass–slow sometimes, and sometimes not. I’ve never really found the place they come together; the one just washes nonchalantly over the next, and it’s of no effect to know which really is consumed.
I’d stand there at those crossing points until another bank of clouds subsumed the light and warmth. An early evening, maybe, in the middle of the day. I noticed no one else would stop. They just passed through veils of sunlight and kept traipsing into dusk. Which of us was wasting?