Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Ghost in the Euclid Arcade


It will be dawn soon. The first light of morning will drift down through the lattice of glass and steel above my head, and as it does the shadows along the galleries will thin out and disappear. Before the doors open and the crowds come in I will slip into a crevice and wait, silent, unsleeping, until darkness returns. I can hear birds outside now, bickering, calling to each other. Sometimes one flies in from the street and flutters above for a while, searching for an exit. For me there is no escape.

I'm alone now but once there were others. The jeweler who took poison, the lawyer who died in his chair. At night we climbed and descended the stairs, each obeying the axes of his own geometry. As we wandered from gallery to gallery, our footfalls silent on the marble, our heads bent down, we knew each other but never nodded or spoke. How could we speak? What could we say? In time, one by one, they became reconciled to oblivion and faded away.

I made bespoke suits for wealthy men, their names now forgotten. In fifty years not one look of tenderness. What did they know of my childhood, of the woman I married but couldn't keep, who already rests in the earth beside another man, their twined spirits embracing even as they dissipate? It's all different now, of course. The men come in bare-headed or wearing baseball caps, dressed like stevedores, and care nothing for fine work. Let it go.

In the half-light, like an automaton, my hands stitch still but nothing is mended.