• Vol. 05
  • Chapter 06


If we look at it from another angle, we might wonder what the fuss was all about. Another jumper climbs the Empire State Building. One more suicide off the Golden Gate Bridge. A body, added to the police statistics, curled inside a dumpster in a Chicago alley. We rush to get away, to get from here to there, to be anywhere as long as we manage to be not where we are. The irrupting shrills and bellows on ground level yearn to orchestrate themselves, ache for a jazzy counterpoint, and wait for random chaos to fall, like tumblers in a lock, into order. It is too much to stand in the human metropolis, on the corner of an intersection, mesmerized under the blinking icons of a stoplight, buffeted and pulled by the contrail of pedestrian currents. We might as well be talking bird. Can anyone listen when everyone speaks? Putting us to shame, speckled pigeons wax eloquent in their cooing walk-about, bobbing and pecking at our grimy scraps. It might be tempting to lie down, to rest, on the sidewalk, one’s cheek pressed in pocked concrete, to marvel at their three-toed ballet or to watch muddy hubcaps spiral by. Is that why we stand in awe of skyscrapers, why we submit to frostbite and snow blindness to reach the summit of the highest peaks of the highest mountain ranges, why we climb on the backs of our fellows to reach the parapet and to stand on the wall of our prisons? The din of our mutual dis-ease does not reach the pinnacles above. The sounds fall back upon themselves to dissolve in oily puddles. If we climb high enough to perch on one foot and peer down on eagles’ nests and satellite dishes, only lights and patterns emerge beneath us. From here, above it all, we can forget the splattered blood on the sidewalk, the floating corpse in the bay, the body bag on its way to the morgue.