The New City

But why? they want to know. Why look back when the future is storming above our heads, its lightning igniting every headline and skyline? Why strain to catch some painted shadow, the echo of an old song, when every day is expectant, fresh as a dare -- We soar past all limits, no hesitating, stripped of fear, free of the past, rising like rockets, elegant, devastating. The New City sings out its continous Now -- Glass stalactite, pristine steel spires, lifting us up beyond even heaven's grasp. Friend, we are living the Future -- Open your eyes! Don't you see? I open my eyes. I will tell you what I see. I see the fisherman working in his East Cambridge shop, a small green melody darting under his breath, his knife flickering like a silver flame. And in the dark cast of his eyes, I see the nets thrown like lace shawls across the shoulders of the waves, the morning sun not yet free of the sea, three hours out from the coast of Oporto. I see the old woman on Dover Street sweeping her walk. And looking up, she is standing on the cobbled streets of Firenze, with the neighbors, also sweeping, the sleeping cats, the postman on bicycle, and the lively morning talk. The bells in the old cathedral measure time, skip a beat. Eight a.m. The day begins with a simple poem. missing the middle rhyme. The children come bursting into the afternoon -- The sidewalk be-bop, schoolyard jazz, the O-Lord-free-again sneaker-dance. Down the slides, up the bars of the iron pyramid. Tell me, who is that wild one on the summit? Orpheus and his chorus? A Bantu king playing bamboo flute? A Hebrew prophet, fire-winged and set to fly? Perched so high, the children sing a shrill song of pleasure that shakes our thin sky. I walk down an avenue that once was a port, bristling with three-masted ships from Britain and Spain. That once, before that, was only reed marsh, teeming with sea trout, rain clouds, and Canada geese. I stop at a fruit stand, cool beneath a green awning. In the grocer's bony hand, I can see the rock-walled hills of County Donegal, barley fields, heather, purple-crowned thistle, grazing pasture and a crooked country lane beckoning like the crook of a finger. I buy figs, oranges, tangerines, and head for the river, still listening to the puckish reel of his whistle. Sitting then on the grassy banks of the summer-slow Charles, I slice the orange in two and watch the red ripe sun run across my hands. The last light flashes chords of copper across the old brick towers, the passersby, and the dark water. Can you see now -- I am not looking back at all. The art is in listening for what never leaves, the dreams that rise within us but never fall. You want to see the New City: close your eyes -- The skyline is there against an inner sky. In your bottomless night, centuries flicker like stars. A thousand family voices murmur in the dark. Close your eyes tight and feel this City of the Heart. The towers are only pairs of interlaced hands. Climb higher, look out from the mind's peaked window. If we settle this home today, we can go traveling tomorrow.

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