Wednesday, November 10, 2010

City of Lights

Imagine that you are building a sand castle, but instead of raising it you are uncovering it, brick by sandy brick. When you have finally revealed it you discover that it's really not much of a castle after all, but more of a ... cruller. Do you get to work slapping and shaping the gritty monster into a castle? Do you make it a better cruller? Or some combination unseen by the world and which may turn out to be ghastly ... or brilliant?

You have been asked to make a meal for people you do not know, using ingredients whose faded labels you cannot read, using knives and a stove and pans you cannot hold right. Yet you are compelled to cook, and think only of the feast. This image sustains you through the mess, the rinds of oranges and gristle, spills, dirty dishes, and the grueling and unglamorous labor.

You are dreaming. You must be. Because all you feel is warm air, holding you up, up in the night and you realize you are flying above a moonlight landscape: tiny blots of trees, and winding streets, and the silver shine of the ocean far off. It's a town, spread out below you like a quilt, and in the warm-lit houses people have their own lives, their own fears and joys and quietnesses.

No, it's a city: a great and broad glittering city of lights. The wind rustles and you sail higher, high enough now to glimpse the distant glows of ships tracking across the horizon. Below you is a carpet of stars: the city lights and streetlights and cigarette lights and campfires and rain puddles in the moonlight and bits of mirror and everything shines.

Everything shines.

And you think: that spot needs a light. A tiny spark glows. And that spot. Another one.

One by one, far above the city, you point and sparks glow brighter or dimmer, until everything is just as it needs to be.

You sail higher. It's colder up here, but you need to be able to see the whole thing. Now the dark ocean dwarfs the small city, but the lights ... the lights are patterns. Strings like tiny pearl necklaces, threads of lights, cold blue and warm yellow sparks and silver drops like sugar against the night.

And now you rearrange the threads just a little: straightening this one, pulling that on into a more graceful arc, connecting this one to that one.

This is revision to me: arranging the all the glowing pieces to make sure the patterns I see are truly there. Sometimes it's exhausting but it is always rewarding.

1 comment:

Babs said...

WOW! You've never had a cruller with your writing. They are always at least the chocolate croissants! Superb writing. Stick with it!