The sun comes out, the prairie warms and suddenly things have names again. Winter is denial, spring is nomenclature. Richard Ford says a novelist’s unit of thought is the sentence, not paragraphs or pages. A sentence with precise word choices, a sentence aware of what a thing, a world of things, is called. To observe is to name.
Chicago in winter is cold. Cold, cold Chicago. A summery snap like this weekend’s? Balmy with words. Images that pop with language. In buttery late-afternoon light, reflections key across each other and everyone’s eyes and skin seem lively, alert. In any direction you look, random, aimlessly, with or against the gentle, almost-not-there breeze, motion, flicker and flesh spend in the air. Dogs’ bright eyes as they pass, the quest for sniff. T-shirts in perfect crease on average shoulders. Hardly anyone, anything looks away. Contact compulsive, convulsive. I see you see me. A streetful of winter’s cigarette filters. The pianissimo of women’s walk, look down and above the throat line of ballet-soft flats, the genteel ripple of metatarsals against pale skin.
Someone you know smiles, turns, departs: nape barbered boyish. On Milwaukee, street glacier gone, in setting sun, rust’s advance on a long-abandoned bicycle’s chainring. City alive with decay as well. Alive with passage, alive, warm, hopeful. (Ray Pride)