The catalogue of forms is endless:
until every shape has found its city,
new cities will continue to be born.
Was it impossible to love the city
in which it happened?
City of unfinished structure,
city of developing forms.
Where the red crane against the blue sky
guided the calculated geometry of steel
through the delineating space.
The church sent blessings
and a parcel of its adjacent heaven.
The community assembled
a collective will of iron.
The courage to build slowly
in the determined Roman way—
to knock off at sundown,
return the next day and the next,
thermos of coffee snapped under
the metal dome of a lunch kit.
Already the neighbors’ eyes
climbed like elevators,
passing the three floors of infancy,
ten of childhood, how many
teenaged stories . . .
Out of the great blasted hole—
which had shaken their bearing walls,
which had drilled them from sleep—
it reached, square upon square,
where all that could happen would happen,
faithful to the blueprint.
Ceilings, floors, membranes of the common walls.
Even feelings seemed less abstract
once the concrete was poured.
Rooms where they lost, pined, brooded,
listened to wonderful music,
wrote letters, washed,
concocted recipes of deficiency
or excess, shifted photos
of the living with the dead.
When had they moved in?
To what lease had they signed their assent?
Now, making out envelopes, they didn’t
hesitate, writing the return address
as though it had always existed.
What began with desire, the girder,
the rising silhouette at twilight—
shape of things to come.
--Jeanne Marie Beaumont from Placebo Effects (W.W. Norton & Co.) © 1997. All rights reserved.
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