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2006 07 23
Philosopher’s Walk III: Night
The secret lifting wind on these evenings buoys me
above the houses and streets and into the radiant night
shooting stars bright purple iris emblazoned light
longing cricket longing me roadside grass swish night air.
("Night Air", 1999)
In deep summer the night is rich and alive, and the city smells of the day's heat still rising from the pavements, the air thick with asphalt and lake murk. Here in the Junction the night is cleaved by the crashing of train cars shunting in the rail yards until eleven, the drone of air conditioners, intermittent radios, raccoon snufflings. In the bright lights of a parking lot at Runnymede, moths and mayflies immolate themselves, their carapaces dropping onto the roofs of overheated cars and into unguarded open-topped soft drinks. The marble moon rides high, and we glide upon it, deep into the night.

When I was a child we lived in east Riverdale, already a nascent Little India, several blocks east of Gerrard Square. Sometimes at night, if my father was working a late shift, he would wake us upon his return so we could walk together through side streets and back alleys and through a hole in the fence beside the railway tracks, to the shopping centre to buy groceries at the 24-hour supermarket. At midnight people's voices were muted, muttered, smoke curling like turbans above their shadowed heads, their bodies disappearing into the darkness of the laneway. The lights in the Miracle Mart were overbright, the meat cutters surreal, bloody boogeymen who grinned and shouted 'kalimera!' at my father to goad him into an argument over the best way to wield the blade. We would return home as the darkness turned toward dawn, in the deepest hours before the subway trains awakened and called out in high, primordial voices from the Greenwood yards.

At night the city tilts toward stillness, but seems to move faster than during the day. It is dreamlike, drunken, like biking rapidly over pavement between streetlights and muddled shadows, like waking to find the moon riding away with your memories of loss and longing. At night it is possible for sounds to be amplified across the entire city; gunshots, catcalls, gutteral cries of grief or pleasure, all echoing between buildings and bouncing above the ravines, transmitted through the singing rail lines or carried along the electrical wires, the city a single field of energy coursing with light and dark matter.

Until dawn, when we awaken and find ourselves fallen, and drown ourselves in the indistinct currents of the day.

(The above night sky image was taken by Jana Mills and is used under the aegis of a Creative Commons license.)
[email this story] Posted by Amy Lavender Harris on 07/23 at 10:17 AM

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